WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you. This is an archive of posts from March 8 - 15, 2001 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Gurus and Gurinos: Having a problem I've had before, and will ask the all knowing about it herewith! I got a small comission forging some hand inplements, and I am forging them out of solid square stock (A36 structural steel) the sizes are 3/4, 7/8, and 1" (for the bigger implement users). What I do is fuller them (1/2" guilletin?) at the required distance to give a roughly cubic pommell, and fuller a bit further on, then forge the inbetween to fit a hand. I fuller them to about half orig size (3/4 to 3/8 and etc.) Problem is bad cracking around the fullered area, in the bottom of the fullered groove, cracks run around the material (it somehow got round at this point), I take several heats to do this, and I've tried it with both the coal and propane forges with same results. It happens about 10 to 20% of the time. Can you help me drive this percentage near zero.....I've been told this is just the uncertainty principle manifesting itself in the changing makeup of A36. Would it help to switch to 1018 CR (or whatever it is)? Thanks in advance
Tim - Thursday, 03/08/01 00:44:23 GMT

Yup, I'm at home now and there it is in Andrews. No pillows in Donna. Paw Paw, I sincerely apologize for giving you crap about the book review.

I was wrrrrrrr........ I...... I was wrrroooonn.......
I was WRONG!

As often as it happens, you'd think I would be getting more used to admitting it! (grin)

Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 01:25:08 GMT

Cracking: Tim, Its one of those odd problems. It might be cold shuts from a rough fuller or too tight a radius fuller. Do you rotate the stock while fullering? This could be pushing a little material to the side and creating cold shuts as you work around the stock. The other possibility is that you are isolating stock and the cracks are forming from the inertia of the blocks beyound the fullering while forging the middle. Heavy masses tend to create that type of problem as they bend the "neck" repeatedly while forging.

A36 is not great stuff but it shouldn't do that unless you are working it too cold.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 01:26:06 GMT


No sweat, you're just suffering from beginning CRS. I've got an advanced case. (wry grin)


Careful what you ask for, you might get it!


Nana Nana Na Na! Beat you to it!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 04:11:47 GMT




Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 04:44:02 GMT

Hi Guru,
I'm 16 and want to be a blacksmith
I want to build/create medievil designs such as
armour and swords
but I do not think I would have enough money to even
start such a proffession
so could u please help me
give me an insight as to how hard it is and
how much it will cost
Aaron  <keehnbean at start.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 06:19:06 GMT

Paw-Paw; Elizabeth Brim did a demo for the CBA at the Octoberfest a while ago. I really liked the method...she is splendidly creative. She also does vacu-forming of hot hollow-bodies over an internal framework.
She made a steel"tuffet" that looked like stuffed cloth and she forge welded a fine wire fringe to the edges and made it look easy.
She did blow one up . We figured out that some water condensed in the air line. It made a nice "whoomph" and the seam opened up. A couple of us expressed interest in doing it again.
The seams were mig welded Tony. I torch welded my first one thinking that the annealing effect would give me a flatter seam but the prep was funky and I had to keep rewelding it as I pushed the form rounder.
I have 2000' of water line going up Mt Mars so the static pressure is around 140 PSI. It made using water pressure easy. Besides, I dont yet have a forge big enough to evenly heat a piece as big as I wanted.
Incidentaly, using a rosebud on a piece under pressure (yipee!) to control localized buldging didnt work well.
Pete F  <uh huh> - Thursday, 03/08/01 08:40:02 GMT

Some time ago I came across an american smiths web pages where he describes making Great Bellows. The guy also had a portable forge/trailer setup that interested me. Problem is i can;t remember the guy's name or find his page again. Can you point me in the right direction?
Orlando  <BigO at macprofessor.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 10:10:03 GMT

Pete, Thanks. I was figuring that a consistent weld would be required to get consistent expansion of the pillow around the edge. Mig welding could be done consistent enough with good weld prep and a *very* steady hand. Tig might be easier and give another deired texture. (I'm looking for excuses to get a good Tig machine). To do it cold, if my line water pressure wasn't good enough, and I didn't want any hydraulic oil inside, I'd use a gas over water setup (3000psi nitrogen from the bottle) and a needle valve to control the flow rate of the water into the pillow. Fittings must be rated for 3000 psi and I'd keep the flow rate into the pillow very small so that any pillow explosion would still be very small energy. Old hydraulic cylinders work well as high pressure gas over liquid setup as long as the seals don't leak like sieves.

Interesting that the rosebud didn't work.

Paw Paw, Good acronym. I gave up after a minute of trying yesterday. Short attention span. Happens when you get hit in the head with a tree. (grin)

But I'm better this morning... try...

Blacksmiths Underestimate Terrific C.O.W.S. Humorously, Eventually Receiving Sympathy? (grin)

Hey, I figure Jock opened the door when he brought up butchers. (bigger grin)

I still think it would be fun.

Tony  <tca_b at mapsonmilwpc.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 12:43:31 GMT


Arms and armor can be simple and cheap or complex and expensive, just like everything else. I made my chainmail byrnie some 25+ years ago using two pair of pliers, a brace (as in brace and bit) with a metal rod for a mandril, a pair of bolt cutters and a quqrter mile of 14 ga. electic fencing wire. You probably already have or could borrow the tools, and the wire would cost about $20.00. It took me about 130 man hours over three months (mostly on a bus, commuting to work) to put the 12,800 links together.

Check out the articles on our Armory pages under the "21st Century Blacksmith" section. There are also a number of links both on our links page and on the armor web ring.

Don't forget to check at your local library and to ask about inter-library loans. There is a wealth of information available. I was just reading last night where Alexander the Great wore quilted cloth armor! The more you know and learn about history, the more alternatives you'll see. As far as I'm concerned a Viking in a decent leather helm, with a shield and axe, looks just as good as any late medieval fighter in full plate armor. Keep it simple, keep it cheap, keep it accurate.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

Bruce Blackistone  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Thursday, 03/08/01 13:37:38 GMT

Bellows/Trailer: Orlando, This is the place. Go to our 21st Century page. The bellows is not quite traditional but looked good and worked (still works) very well.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 17:09:58 GMT

Armor: Aron, Blacksmithing and making armor are almost two different subjects.

As Bruce mentioned armor has a lot of non-metal work. Padding is sewn cloth and leather. Only the "Lords" and professional soldiers had expensive plate or scale armor. Sheilds were mostly wood with leather coverings and later with metal covering. Few were all metal. It is theorized that wood/leather shields had metal edging added, then bosses and other reinforcement, then became entirely metal covered. The fact that wood, cloth and leather do not last long compared to metal means we have few expamples of what was once the majority.

Now, your REAL question. The metal work. Start with the basics. See our reading list in the Getting Started article. Tools cost very little if you are a good scrounger and have some imagination. We have articles on our 21st Century page and our iForge page about alternative anvils and swages. The articles Bruce pointed you to on our armory page show the use of almost all alternative tools.

A great deal of metalworking can be done cold if approached with that in mind. But at some point you will want to heat a piece of steel white hot and HIT it. Our plans page has a classic "brake drum" forge that can be built for as little as nothing to a max of about $100 if you bought all the parts (except the brake drum) new.

Hammers can be cheap if you learn to put on your own handles. My first two were found burried in the ground near a carriage house. I suspect a farriers kit got spilled and they got kicked into some leaves or brush. For many years you could purchase loose hammer heads for $1 at junk shops and fleamarkets. Today it is closer to $5 but still a bargain. Check your local junk shops, swap shops and DAV store regularly. All kinds of tools show up and are often very inexpensive. You will want to collect every type of hammer (other than carpenters), smiths, ball peen, riveting, sledges, all sizes.

Study, scrounge, start where you can.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 17:51:37 GMT


I'm the proud user of the bellows that Jock built so many years ago. I'll tell the world that it still works VERY well! If you have questions about it, want dimension, or help, email me, and I'll help any way I can.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 17:56:26 GMT

paw paw and guru, i thankyou for your advice and support for my previous querry.

im looking to make some rings, not just the usual strip of thin sheet metal, im going to probably use round stock to start from, anyway, is there any treatment i can give copper to avoid blue-finger, or any skin discoloration for that matter? not that i mind, but my customers might.

BTW i may have access to a digital camera soon, so could get some pictures of my work onto the internet for any of you interested to see!

well, thx guru
AdamSmith - Thursday, 03/08/01 20:20:49 GMT

Copper: Adam, Clear lacquer works for a while. That is what is on brass costume (and cheap) jewlery.

It has been recommended here before and I'll do it again, silver is currently cheap. It is soft and ductile. If you want the copper color use copper set into silver. On rings this does not prevent 100% of the copper/skin contact but it gets rid of most of the problem.

Silver is up to $4.50/troy oz today. Its been hovering between $4-$5 for a while. Most other precious metals are up and expected to rise. Silver will likely follow so it should be a good time to buy. But I'm not an expert on the subject.

An ounce will make three or four (more?) ladies rings. Even at a higher retail price that's not bad. If used for a liner a lot less would be used.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 21:22:13 GMT

Thankyou guru, heh, i sure would like to get some silver to use, thing is, theres no place in the area where i could purchase silver in various forms for a good price, perhaps those places arent common anyway. of course theres always places to order from on the internet for great prices, but i have no credit card, Id or anything, and my parents are extremely busy these days, heck, i dont see them very often, bless their souls, they're at work. so i hope you understand why i have trouble getting ahold of it. but thankyou very much for the advice, im sure ill manage to get some eventually.

while im here, has anyone ever worked with J-B weld, its a cold weld/epoxy and im going to buy some tonight when i go out if anyone can reccomend it. has anyone worked with it? and do you reccomend it?

Thx again.
AdamSmith - Thursday, 03/08/01 22:52:31 GMT

dear metal working guru,
jeff  <spoojman1 at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 23:08:29 GMT

Silver: Adam, try any coin shop. Many buy (and sell at a profit) old silver coins that have no collector's value. Many jewlers deal with custom jewlers and repairers that may also stock some sheet and wire. Ask.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/08/01 23:41:52 GMT

Never thought of coins,
or of asking a jeweler,
AdamSmith - Thursday, 03/08/01 23:45:54 GMT

Where can I find information or the story about when the devil needed his hooves shoed?
Arassmiss  <ArassmissB at aol.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 00:24:24 GMT

St. Eligivs is the blacksmith's saint in this story. I'm looking for more. .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 01:06:12 GMT

St. Eligius: Note the corrected spelling, I was looking at an old engraving and forgot U's looked like V's not too many centuries ago. . .

Here is a link to the official story (not the myth).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 01:21:04 GMT

St. Eligius: Here is another link to the official story (not the myth).

Apparently the myths are applied to both Eligius and Dustan. I expect the stories are older than the saints or the Catholic church.

The following was found at
Legend of St.Dunstan

The saint, formerly a blacksmith was working at his forge
when the Devil paid him a visit, disguised as a beautiful woman, with a view to leading him astray. However St. Dunstan spotted the cloven hooves beneath the dress, and grabbed the devil's nose with his red hot pincers! Thus foiling Satan's evil intentions.

According to another legend, Satan returned again as a weary traveller in need of a horseshoe, Dunstan saw through the disguise once again and beat the Devil until he pleaded for mercy, and swore never to enter any house with a horseshoe above the door.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 01:58:57 GMT

Better Copy: If someone has (or wants to write) one of the more elaborated copys of the blacksmith vs. devil legend/myth send it to us and I'll post it on the story page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 02:04:45 GMT

Does anybody know where I can get a exploded view of a 30lb Kerrihard hammer.
Bruce  <Easyrider32861 at hotmail.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 04:54:43 GMT

Recommended tempering for hammers made from car/truck axles?
Ned Digh  <npdigh at ktis.net> - Friday, 03/09/01 05:09:46 GMT

There is no doubt , you need a good TIG...tell your wife I said so.
Adam; JB weld is pretty good glue. Glue salesmen lie horribly. The stuff will only weld more epoxy, not metal.
The range of soft solders through silver solder to brazing are not welding either but offer a strong, inexpensive way to stick metals together. Start with the highest temp solder and drop to lower temp solders with each stage of the assembly. You can get solders to match a range of metals.
Pete F - Friday, 03/09/01 06:52:45 GMT

A 30# Kerrihard and a modest amount of explosive; is no longer considered the proper answer.
PF - Friday, 03/09/01 08:48:18 GMT

hi guru, i have a question about insurance for my business. i have avoided talking to any salesman because i want to avoid being sold everything in the book. my partner and i just started our business in november 2000 and being aware of how litigious people seem to be now what is the minimal amount of insurance and what kind would be good to have. thanks, justin.
justin  <justinsquare at earthlink.net> - Friday, 03/09/01 14:23:18 GMT

Insurance: Justin, This is a tricky area. IF you install architectural work or do public demonstrations you have a relatively high libility exposure. In the case of installing work, the contractors you sub-contract for MAY have some bonding or libility requirements. In the case of doing demonstrations always ask the host if you are covered under their umbrella. . If you simply manufacture items to sell or wholesale then your libility is rather small.

IF you are a contractor the state may have some minimum requiremsnts. Some locations require huge libility to drive a vehical onto their site OR to do any work. Sometimes this can prevent you from moving a piece of equipment you have purchased from and industrial location.

Insurance needs to be part of your business plan. Taxes and workman's comp comes first, fire or property insurance, then libility insurance according to what you can afford. Determine what you can budget before you spend it.

Installation goof$. .
  • Grinding swarf welding to glass, other metal, burning wood
  • Physical damage due to dropping or dragging work or tools
  • Holes in plaster or surface damage at mountings
  • Cracked masonry (get the contractor to drill holes)
  • Bad, sloppy or dripped paint
  • Rust or complaints of bad finishing
  • Late or delayed installation
  • Causing Union walkouts. . .

There is one insurance company that advertises in the Anvil's Ring and they have a feel for what blacksmiths do and the coverage they need.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 15:51:36 GMT

Hammer Temper: Ned, Axels vary from medium to high carbon steel. Most are alloy steels. 4140, 5160 . . . There can be great variation. I find oil quenching safest and draw back to the a "light straw" yellow or less. Thats about 450°F. The higher carbon steel may need a "purple/brown" 550°F. It depends on the steel. As always, with scrap steel, YOU become the metallurgist.

Generaly hammers want to be hard but they don't want to be so hard they mark your anvil. GOOD anvils can take almost anything but many new anvils are not that hard. New manufacturers would rather see some marking than chipping of corners. There is also the libility problem of flying chips. . In any case, you are better with a softer hammer than one too hard.

Some floating car/truck axels have a really nice rounded flange that will make a great mushroom stake. So think about it before cutting the end off too short.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 16:13:37 GMT

Myths and Legends: Arassmiss, Besides the information above, I have just posted three blacksmith stories as told by Jim Paw-Paw Wilson on our Story page.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 18:38:02 GMT

I have bought a blacksmith shop in liverpool, England which closed its doors in 1894. Six months ago the doors were opened for the first time in over a hundred years and its contents were shipped to me. Within it was an anvil weighing about 400 lbs. I was wondering if you can give me some information about the anvil. It has some inscriptions on it and all I can make out are: Joshuiah----June----Dudley---and the numbers 1,2,3. Do you know anything about it?
Kelly Solomon  <Solomonkr at aol.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 21:06:38 GMT

Insurance ?? I have tried a number of time to contact the one in the Mag mentioned above. Their web site doesn't work up here..Any hints from your end..
Barney  <barney at vianet.on.ca> - Friday, 03/09/01 22:36:33 GMT

Hi there everyone. I have a few questions:

1) What is cheaper and less difficult to begin; plate armor or swords?

2) For plate armor, where can I get large enough sheet metal to make the largest piece?

3) What type/shape/size of metal does one start out with when they are making a sword (is it sheet metal or a rod of some sort?)

4) Is it possible to temper chain-link fence wire (I was bored so I got some and pounded it into a blade)?

5) How much does an anvil large enough to make a broadsword or breastplate cost?

6) How might one build a forge (any links to website that show how)?

7) What is the total cost to get started on the simplest possible project, be it sword or plate armor.

Thanks for your time, everyone.
Alex Gravlin  <agravlin at charter.net> - Friday, 03/09/01 23:20:31 GMT

Oh, in addition to my previous message, I have had much experience in maille already, so I'm not an armor idiot. I'm 15 years old. And I live in Georgia, in-case you know of any local groups that can help.

Alex Gravlin  <agravlin at charter.net> - Friday, 03/09/01 23:22:13 GMT

Anvil: Kelly, That is probably a Joseph Wilkinson anvil made in Dudley England. Dudley was the site of several different Wilkinson's and Wright's anvil factories.

The numbers don't add up though. Most old anvils were marked in the hundred weight system where the first mark was hundred weights (112#) and the next number quarter hundred weights (28#) and the last was pounds. 112 + 84 + 3 = 199 pounds (a lot less than 400#).
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/09/01 23:23:55 GMT

Swords and Armor: Alex, See my posts above to Aron about make-do.

Costs in this business is largely up to you. Good imaginative scroungers can do amazing things without any or little cash. I've had TWO 165# Peter Wright anvils given to me (0$). You can pay $800 for an equivalent new anvil. You can also order a new block of alloy steel for about $150 that will make a great armorer/sword smith's anvil. (see our 21st Century page anvil series).

There are forge plans on our Plans page (start on the home page) as well as links to other sites with forge plans. Forges are easier than anvils. Cost? 0 to $800. My best forges have cost the least. My big gas forge with sophsticated electronic controls cost me a little less than $500.

As I told Aron, look on our armoury page. The most important tools used in the current article were make do.

If you have a shop to work in and some cash to spend I would purchase a standard size buzz box (transformer welder) and a full size oxy-propane welding set. Victor sells a set called their "Journeyman set" that is the right one. Your welding supplier will swap out the parts to make it work on propane.

With a buzz box and a cutting torch, plus a hand drill and a few common tools you can build almost ANYTHING specialized that you need. Anvils, benches, stakes, forges, shears, vises and powerhammers. . . OR our advertisers will sell you everything you need if that is the only way for you to obtain tools .

Your most important tool is knowledge. Everything you need to know or where to find it is here, all you have to do is look.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 00:06:08 GMT

insurance-- be extremely cautious and discreet-- that's pronounced anonymous-- in making inquiries about insurance. homeowners does not-- n.b. NOT-- cover equipment used professionally, just amateur, so if you get ripped off and you've left tracks indicating you are a pro, you are in jeopardy. also: inquiring lets the camel into the tent vis a vis business permitting and fire inspections. no tickee, no washee. and, in addition to what the blessed guru has mentioned, don't let anybody ever walk into your shop unless you got coverage like an agent's wet dream. never. low profile all the way.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 00:40:32 GMT

Does catologing of blacksmiths hallmarks exist? We have a set of gates with a crown stamp with the letters WB under crown.
mike  <mcboris at timaru.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 03:46:51 GMT

What cracked is trying to say in his own inimitable fashion is:

If you don't want a bullet up your bum, keep your butt down! Low Crawl every inch of the way!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 04:01:20 GMT

Hallmarks: Mike, We are working on a directory of current "touchmarks" as they are called in blacksmithing today. However, this does not include historical marks. IF your piece is very old and made where there was a guild system then the mark would have been registered in the guild "hall" thus "hallmark". When the guild system broke down the records MAY have been turned over to the local government. If there was no interest in them they may have been discarded, rotted. . who knows.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 04:22:08 GMT

I am recently employied (~~1 month) to an architechtrual blacksmith but have been taking welding classes and reading for 2 years now. We just got in a 500lb drop weight hammer in today. i saw an ad in machinest mag about coupula furnaces book. sending out for it tomarow. do you think it possible to smelt low point steel with clean sand and coke then puddle our some carbon or what ever puddling really does then work out slag on power hammerto make wroght iron?
Black Paw - Saturday, 03/10/01 06:39:37 GMT

Just posted a notice in the Virtual Hammer-In for the Military Through the Ages event at Jamestown, VA, next weekend. Y'all come, if you can.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

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

Bruce Blackistone (Atli)  <asylum at us.HSAnet.net> - Saturday, 03/10/01 16:43:17 GMT

Bruce, wish I could be there (sponsor the plane-ticket, anyone?). Reenactments are fun, but does it ever happen to you that some pimple-face inspects your researched-and- improved-since-20-years outfit and says:"Iīve read a (one) book and that wasnīt in it so itīs wrong."?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Saturday, 03/10/01 18:01:10 GMT

Puddling: BlackPaw, Castiron is the preffered raw material for puddling. The reason is that the melting point of the CI is lower than steel or pure iron. You need the difference between melting points so that the pure iron collects on the surface of the pool and can be raked into a bloom.

The puddling process requires more than just melting the CI. It must be held in a furnace with a reducing atmosphere so that carbon is burned out and the pure iron forms. The "reverbatory" furnaces that were used both melted the iron and removed carbon from the surface of the molten pool.

Both James Nasmyth as well as Bessemer worked on the process to reduce CI into wrought. Nasmyth used a steam rake while Bessemer used compressed air. Both intended to make wrought iron. Bessemer found that mild steel was more economical to produce.

In the US a Bessemer type process was used up until the 1930's to produce wrought iron. The converter was blown until all the carbon was gone. Then slag was added and agitated to mix. The semi molten "bloom" was dumped into a large hydraulic compactor to form a billet and then was rolled in the standard manner.

Any way you do it, its a big job and requires more technical know-how than is apparent. Little things can get you. Compacting blooms much be done gently. The old tilt hammers with short travel and some counter balance were near perfect. When done by hand with a sledge the same technique is used. The sledge is only lifted a few inches and gently placed on the bloom. You hold back more than drop. It is more of a "patting" than striking. . .

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 18:05:09 GMT

Reinactments: Olle, This one is close enough that I might be able to make it. I'll try to get you lots of photos.

Bruce, got a press pass???

Ah, Olle, I don't think too many folks say anything about Atli's band of "Vikings" more than once. . . ;) . . now where did I put my shield? . . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/10/01 18:19:30 GMT

What is the maximum diameter air cylinder I can use for a hammer using a 5 horsepower 18.1 cfm air compressor?

Thanks for your help...
David  <davisten at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 04:08:27 GMT

I am building a scale model of a blacksmith shop circa 1865 and I can find no pictures of what the hearth or more specifically the bellows looked like. If you could point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance,
Lee  <omniscale at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 15:05:48 GMT

Air Cylinder: David, It depends on how fast you want the hammer to run, what type of duty it will see and whether or not you want to follow the 50% duty cycle of most air compressors. Then there is the ram weight. You can lift a lot heavier ram than can be operated efficiently. On the old air/steam hammers a small 100# machine had a 15:1 lift/ram ratio. This ratio was less as the hammer becomes larger. The reason is because the larger hammers are run slower.

The current crop of air hammers says about 2" to 2.5" at 100PSI.

A 2" cylinder has PI area (3.142sqin.) At 100PSI that will lift about 300# (don't forget friction, inertia), but slowly. It has a 3.14:1 ratio on a 100# hammer, 6.28:1 on a 50# hammer.

A 2.5" cylinder has 4.9sqin. It has a 4.9:1 ratio on a 100# hammer, 9.8:1 on a 50# hammer.

The NEW hammers use lower ratios because they are designed for lighter duty forging at slower speeds by a single operator. The old machines were designed to run on steam and to hit hard and fast while a team did the forging. They were also designed to last forever. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 17:42:01 GMT

JD - When are the touchmarks going to be updated ?
Barney  <barney at vianet.on.ca> - Sunday, 03/11/01 17:58:07 GMT

Touchmarks: Barney - I'm sorry. . just one of those many little jobs I haven't caught up on. Thanks for the reminder!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 18:06:49 GMT

1860's Shop: Lee these varried greatly but were not too much different that those from much earlier.

Go to our NEWS page, Vol. 17, page 2-5 (MASA at Williamsburg). Page 4 has forge and bellows photos. The shop was quite crowded and dark and our forge photos are not very good.

Vol. 5 page 7 has photos of an 1890's era forge. The shops dates much earlier but the blowers date from around 1890-1920. Earlier it probably had a bellows rather than a hand cranked or electric blower.

Vol. 2 page 18, has Peter Ross working at a reproduction Colonial American forge. The photos were of Peter and the forge is not shown as clearly as it could.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 18:29:00 GMT

What would be the best (affordable) tool for punching a series of square holes (like for pickets) in material up to 1/4-inch thick? An arbor press? Or ?
Thomas  <lava at mindspring.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 18:32:11 GMT

I am looking for information on a pair of andironbs that I just purchased. They are stamped CAHILL inside of a diamond. They are of a very nice design in the Arts & Crafts style with pyriamid tops, a decorative band and large loops, and nicely formed feet. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Mike Knittel
Mike Knittel  <mikek at netacc.net> - Sunday, 03/11/01 19:45:20 GMT

I would also like to know about an affordable way to punch holes and different shaped blanks out of sheet and plate up to 1/4". Also, is there any data concerning how much weight, or force different sized rivets can withstand?
Kevin - Sunday, 03/11/01 20:31:13 GMT

Holes: Kevin, This is a job for a punch press, ironworker or hydraulic press. The heaviest arbor presses (12 tons, double column) are a huge expensive machine and do not have the capacity.

To calculate the required force. Take the perimiter x thickness x 30 tons (for mild steel or A36). For a 5/8" square hole the perimiter is 2.5" time 1/4" material is (back to) .625 * 30T = 18.75. Round UP to 20 tons.

Remember that is takes force to pull a punch back OUT of the hole. A punch press with the punch attached to the ram OR the top of the dieset attached to the ram will retract the punch with as much force as is required. A hydraulic press WILL NOT unless it is reversible AND the punch is attached to the ram. Return springs are generaly only rated to overcome the friction and weight of the ram, not extract a punch. Seperate "stripper" springs are required in this case.

Whitney-Roper makes poratble hydraulic units to do this work but they are rather pricey. A good used Ironworker is your best bet. Not only can you punch holes with one but shear angle, plate and bar.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 21:00:56 GMT

Rivets: Kevin, The maximum a rivet can take is equal to the shear of the shank area. For most steel this is about 45,000 psi. But can be 150,000 psi for high strength steels. However, depending on the use a large safety factor is applied. In most cases we use 10,000 psi as a max design limit for common steel fasteners. This gives you a theoretical safety factor of 5:1 but in reality closer to 3:1. In crane work a low psi limit is used along with high strength steel. In many cases what is a stated 5:1 safety factor is actualy 20:1 and things still happen. . . Any time people are lifted or supported the safety factors are higher.

Use the rivet shank dia and calculate the area. Then use area x 10,000 psi and that gives you the common rating. A half inch rivet has an area of 0.196sqin. 1963# is the shear rating. But you also have to look at the joint design and how the load is applied. However, the conservitive stress factor is usualy sufficient for most purposes.

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and the AISI handbook both have articles about riveted joints in structurals.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Sunday, 03/11/01 21:18:18 GMT

Dear Gurus'
I just bought a leg vise and was wondering about the
bottom end of the leg. It is "acorn" shaped and looks like
it fits in to another piece. But, I have never seen a vise that came with a bottom piece. Just wondering if you could shed some light. Thanks, Kent
Kent Fowler  <chisosmt at gte.net> - Monday, 03/12/01 00:29:25 GMT

OK, so how about if you want to make picket holes (square or other shapes) in 'bent' strips of metal (up to 1/4-inch thick)? (Like on the top rail of a gait with a 'bent' contour.) If you make the holes before you bend the metal, they will be distorted by the bending, right? So how do you deal with this?
Thomas  <lava at mindspring.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 00:40:02 GMT

Vise: Kent, That is a support ring. All blacksmith vises have them. Generaly the point sticks in a hole (or makes one. .). A washer can help distribute the stress. A post is often burried in the ground next to the post or bench the vise is attached to, to support the vise verticaly. On masonry floors a wood pad with a washer or steel plate is used.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 01:31:32 GMT

Bent holes: Thomas, At various angles and curves a larger hole with angular sides is needed. File it to fit. Just be sure the "starter" hole is in the right place.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 01:36:36 GMT

Two questions:
1) What is the 1/4 hole just off set from the Hardie hole on my anvil for?

2) I want to make a brake pan forge and was wondering if brake pans are lagrer for larger vehicles, buses etc, than cars?
Chris Bernard  <cbernard53 at hotmail.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 02:16:49 GMT

Capt Jock;
The bug ridden Nutscrape 6 doesnt get along with your site all that well....or a lot of other things for that matter. sigh
Pete F - Monday, 03/12/01 07:40:53 GMT


I used 6.0 for about two days and went back to 4.76.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 12:48:15 GMT

I have my own home made cupola which puts out around 30 kgs of iron at each pour. Do you know of a backyard process for converting my iron into steel.
I have searched but all the info is industry related.
ED  <edquince at yahoo.co.uk> - Monday, 03/12/01 14:18:25 GMT

do you know when blacksmithing was started?
chad - Monday, 03/12/01 14:44:37 GMT

Black Paw; if you want to make your own Wrought Iron instead of just buying it (yup you can still find it if you look hard enough) do a web search on bloomery and discard anything to do with flowers. The direct process where you start with ore and end up with wrought is very simple compared with the indirect process.

As to back yard bessemers; Kelly did his experiments using a barrel lined with refractory so it should be possible to try it on a small scale. I assume you are aware of the dangers (shoot when a friend gets his cupola done *I* want to try it!) I currently plan to go with a high temp castable refractory with a ceramic nozzle cast in. pre-heat with a propane burner stuck down the nozzle, fill with liquid CI and switch to air blast (gently! the process is quite exothermic!)

Thomas who smelts WI every August.
Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 16:20:21 GMT

Anvil and Forge: Chris, That is called the "pritchell hole" and is used for punching small holes. A "pritchell" is a small rectangular punch used to make hole in horseshoes. The pritichel hole was an addition to anvils specificaly for shoeing. Some later farriers anvils have two pritchell holes and other modifications.

Yes brake drums come in different sizes. Those for a heavy pickup truck are a nic size. However, heavy TRUCK drums are much too deep. I have two that Paw-Paw and I picked up off the road on a road trip (in two different states)! They are deeper than their diameter. I haven't figured out what they would be good for yet. I'm thinking bases for stock props or something along that line.

The "head" (the curved end) of hot water heaters makes a good forge pan too. But these require a lot of cutting and welding. Heed all warnings about cutting tanks with torches!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 16:27:37 GMT

Iron into steel: Ed, How big is your backyard? As mentioned the "conversion" process is very exciting (to say the least). LOTS of fire and spewing sparks everywhere!

A better thing to do is pour ductile iron. Magnesium is used with common cast iron. The process can be done in the mold. Your pattern needs a chamber to hold the magnesium nodules between the sprue and the mold. The magnesium burns some but it mostly acts as a catalyst causing the excess carbon to form into graphite spheres in the iron. Between these is nice low carbon iron that is ductile and weldable. It machines sort of like cast and cannot be forged but is much better for many things than CI.

The C.W.Ammen books on foundry work have the details.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 16:38:29 GMT

The Iron Age: Chad, Current wisdom is that the the Iron Age started about 1500-1400 BC in the Caucuses (central Asia). Blacksmithing starts with the Iron Age (3500 years ago).

In the Bible the battle between David and Goliath was also the story of a Bronze Age group battling an Iron Age group. In the end, David won against iron age weapons and armor using a stone age weapon (the sling).

In Ancient Greece the "classical" period (450-400 BC I think) was a "transition" society changing from a Bronze Age culture to an Iron Age culture.

Bronze Age tools were already highly developed and were converted to the same forms in iron so the Iron Age developed rather quickly. Tools found from aproximately 1,000 AD are almost identical to modern versions of the same tools (hammers, chisels, tongs). The biggest difference being that over time iron and steel have become more plentiful and some modern tools are larger or heavier.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 16:58:16 GMT


How about cutting those brake drums, so that they are not at deep? Could do it with a coarse blade in a Sawzall, or even using cutting wheels in a horizontal grinderr. Use a hole saw to cut "stock notches" on each side, then cut the drum down to the middle of the stock notch.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 17:47:52 GMT

I am a begning metal worker, I was wondering if there were any book's that you would recommend for, someone that is just getting to know the profession. I love the metal working arts and craft's, I would be using this art for my own use around my home and as a hobbie.I am intrested in medevil war wepons and design's As well as many other use of metal. But I am just gettin to know the profession and could use your help in finding good and useful books.
Thank's jana
Jana Furness  <janafurness at hotmail.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 19:51:54 GMT

Netscape 6 et al

I have used it at home now for several months with no problems. (other than my wife using IE, causing problems between the two)
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 03/12/01 19:54:37 GMT

Jana, check out the Getting Started link on this page, the armor archive and the book review page, all on this site!
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 20:33:30 GMT


My wife recently recieved an antique cast iron napkin holder from a family member. It didnt last long, It got dropped on the floor and it broke a leg off(the vinyl floor didnt hold up well either...). Anyway I am a sheet metal worker for a living and have cutting and welding exper. I assume that this item can be braised back together but I dont have the exper. in this specific field. Im going on the assumption that the item will have to be pre- and post- heated. Any insites that you could offer to make the job go smoothly would be appreaciated. Thanks.
Bill  <wildbill at mail.icongrp.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 22:54:26 GMT


Pre-heat to about 400, braze, allow to cool SLOWY. Pack it in Vermiculite, and allow to cool for at least 24 hours.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/12/01 23:57:46 GMT

rusty  <twisteddimension at aol.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 01:43:44 GMT

Thanks Paw Paw!
Bill  <wildbill at mail.icongrp.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 01:55:46 GMT


Sid Sudimyer - Little Giant in Nebraska City, NB phone#402.873.6603

Not sure whether the number is still good, but Sid bought out the Little Giant stock of parts.

Bill, no problem. Let us know how it goes for you.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 02:08:08 GMT

Dear guru,
do you have any suggestions for mounting a swage block
so its sides and faces can be used easily without hurting your back or giving youself a hernia?

Have you ever seen a hexagonal swage block?
bjb  <bbeamish at netspace.net.au> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 12:34:44 GMT


Build a frame with 1/8" X 1" angle iron. Build it large enough to hold the flat side of the block. Make the legs long enough to hold the block about 30" off the floor. (or a little less, depending on preference) On one side build a set of brackets on the legs that will hold the same block side ways, with a working edge up.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 14:55:45 GMT

bjb, another way would be to find yourself a wood stump ,like you would put an anvil on, cut a slot in it the width of your block. That way you can set it flat on the top or put it sideways in the slot. Either way will work fine, just depends on materials to hand.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 15:19:07 GMT

Looking for info on the age of a pair of Andirons, made by a smith named Cahill that is stamped on them inside of a diamond. I just purchased them in Rochester NY. Thanks for any help. Mike
Mike Knittel  <mknittel at bglassociates.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 15:54:33 GMT

I thought I recognised that name from somewhere; The first man killed by Billy the kid was a blacksmith named F.P.Cahill. But I doubt it has anything to do with your question...
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 16:57:56 GMT

Swage block mounts: bjb, I've seen several methods. I've got a huge old industrial block that probably weighs over 200#. It came with two heavy stands, one to fit flat and one on-edge. I've also seen stands welded up that had a vertical support notch in the center of the flat support area. Blocks have also been made that rotated on a trunnion. Kayne and Son sell one of that type.

Years ago I designed, but have not built, a stand that was a huge wooden block like a butchers block. It had different levels so you could skid a block from horizontal to vertical on a lower surface. The whole was solid, glued and bolted together. Eric Thing has one very similar in his armor shop (see our Armoury page). He has sockets and mounts for his stakes as well as bolting down some of his special swaging fixtures. Old armorer's benches were similar.

How swage blocks are used sometimes determines their mounting. A friend of mine had one bolted to his truck body for adjusting rails in the field. If one is to be used for upsetting then it needs to be supported by the edges so the holes are open below. My smaller blocks generaly sit on my welding bench or weld platten. I've seen many setting on floors where they become "toe stumpers". . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 17:39:00 GMT

Delays: Folks I've been having some PC problems so there may be some delays answering questions or getting things done (last weeks archive is waiting). Originaly I thought it was a virus problem, now it seems to be bugs in Windows. . . Please be patient.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 17:42:09 GMT

Hi Guru,
Thanks for the info recently on building a bellows. I found a source for nails at www.tremontnail.com. I will use them for nailing up the leather.
I added a lean-to to my forge and need to find a finish for my strap hinges.
I do not want to paint.
Is there a linseed oil/beeswax combo out there or could you recommend something else?
Don't mind if the straps rust down the road, it will add to the rustic appearance of the building.
Thanx for your assistance.
Allen Schaeffer  <STUDIO_518 at prodigy.net> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 19:31:11 GMT

Wax/Oil finishesAllen I am generally against these finishes as they all eventualy rust or need a lot of care.
Beeswax is made into a paste by melting it in a double boiler, then adding about 10% turpentine. Stir well and let cool in a container you can seal (I used a new paint can).

One of the hardening liquid floor waxes can also be used.

A good baked on oil finish is just plain vegatable oil, place the oiled part in the kitchen oven and bake at 375-400°F or just hot enough to caramelize the oil and burn it on. A couple applications is fairly permanent.

Apologies: My apologies to the people of Wisconsin! Our order forms in the anvilfire Store were missing your state. The template form came that way from the bankcard folks and I didn't check it. . It's all fixed now.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 19:42:02 GMT

Firstly thankyou for your responce to my question about converting cast iron to steel. What I didnt say was that I wanted the steel so I could magnetise the objects I am making. Would the ductile iron made using magnesium be magnetisable?
Bubbling oxygen thruogh CI sound interesting Id like to try it. Is it possible on a small scale. My back yard is big.
Thanks ED
ED  <edquince at yahoo.co.uk> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 19:55:08 GMT

Bessemer Converter: Ed, When you blow air through molten iron you are using the Bessemer process invented in your country (Britian) in the 1800's. It may be possible to do in small scale but you would have to work out the details. There is plenty of information on the Bessemer process and it was pattented in Britian so you should be able to find the early records if they are not in a history of ironmaking.

The ability of steel to be magnetized increases with carbon content and hardness. Modern magnet materials include nickle alloys. I'm not sure about ductile iron. Its probably not a very good magnet material.

Pure iron can be magnetic under the influence of another magnet or electric coil. However, it does not magnetize. For this reason transformer and solenoid cores are made of special low or no carbon silicon steels or iron alloys.

If you are interested in making magnet alloys then that is more of a crucible steel operation.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 22:26:49 GMT

I've been using a boiled linseed oil,butchers wax and paint thinner concoction on my exterior door hardware and lighting fixture for about6-7 years now and it works just fine. It really needs to be applied twice a year. But if I forget alittle rust will start which I clean up with a scrubbie and then recoat. For my customers I paint exterior work because 99% of them won't do the maintanance. I think it works because it remains flexable. The metal ends up being a black brown which I like. I mix it up different every time, mostly boiled linseed then wax and thinner or turpentine to get it on. Works for me.
Pete  <Ravnstudio at aol.com> - Tuesday, 03/13/01 23:11:35 GMT

I am looking for a written tutorial on making iron roses. I have seen a tutorial refered to on the web, but the link was dead. Do you know if such a tutorial is available, and if so where? Alternatively, could you suggest a book on iron flower making?
Mike Gillespie  <mike at mrgbits.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 03:14:11 GMT

Tutorials: Mike, We have nearly a hundred of them on our iForge page! Several are on flowers and include various methods.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 04:04:20 GMT

Good Guru;
RE your answer to Ed,
Does that infer that one can get pure iron by taking the plates out of old transformers and solenoides? Electric motors too?
Pete F - Wednesday, 03/14/01 07:31:33 GMT

Pure Iron: Pete, Yes. Its not "pure" iron. Its a very low carbon silicon iron. Very ductile. I don't know about its other working properties. Should be good in laminated steels where you want something to etch dark.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 07:47:35 GMT

Just a few questions.First I am having a hard time finding a swage block here in British Columbia, Canada.If new where should I look? Second I am making a set of Triathlon handle bars for my road bike made of aluminum and was wondering if you could tell me if tempering aluminum is possible. And third I was wondering if you have heard of any blacksmiths who use an electric induction furnace, such as glassblowers use, as a forge? Thanks in advance. Brian.
BRIAN  <ATOMIC190 at HOTMAIL.COM> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 09:41:56 GMT

Dear Gurus,
I need to repair a broken windmill hub that was wrecked in a storm. It's made of Cast Iron , the main hub is about 5 1/2" in dia. and about 8" long. Radiating from the back edge of the hub are (were) 5 ears the the wheel spider angles bolted on. 3 of the ears are broken off, but I have them. The average thickness of the iron appears to be about 1/4" to 3/8". My plan is to sandblast, then preheat the hub and pieces in my coal forge, remove them from the forge, set them up on my bench on firebricks, position the broken ears, then braze the ears on useing a torch. The questions are, is 400 Degrees F the right preheat temp? Do you recomend fluxed rod, or unfluxed rod with separate flux? how big of rod? any particular rod better than another? Do I butter the broken edges with flux or braze before putting the pieces in place to assure full penetration? after brazing the top surfaces do I dare turn the part over and braze the opposite side of the joint without fear that the ears will melt and move or drop off!!#?? And what about the cool down? Do I put the assy. back in the forge at a reduced heat and let the fire go out? Is that good enough for a cooldown period? You mentioned Vermiculite? in an earlier inquiry , what type of supplier would have this? What are the details in useing it? How much would be needed? How deep would the part need to be in it? Are there any other tricks I need to know? When this hub is in use, its 50' in the air in the middle of the wheel, and I don't need any problems then!!! Thanks, Old Chief
Old Chief  <george_miles at hermanmiller.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 14:22:36 GMT

Guru, can you reccomend any colledges or art schools which offer blacksmithing courses?
AdamSmith - Wednesday, 03/14/01 14:26:56 GMT

Mike, On making flowers. One of the esiest is using horseshoe nails. Get the biggest you can find #10's or so and hammer the heads flat. They can then be hammered flat and assembled as a rose. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 15:27:54 GMT

Re Bessemer process: it was patented in the US too and it appears that Kelly may have precedence in some ways in his experiments over Bessemer---anyway it gave Carnegie and US Steel a lot of mileage around the latter 19th century...

Thomas who were those english accented dudes who hung out at Kelly's while he was experimenting???
Thomas Powers  <thomas_powers at my-deja.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 16:35:35 GMT

Windmill Hub: Chief, This is one of those tweeky repairs. Preheating in a coal forge soots up the surfaces badly (or possibly scaling) and you want to keep the clean you got from the sand blasting. I don't recommend it. Preheating with a torch is best. Propane weed burners work well.

On CI hubs wheels and pullies you want a preheat on the opposite side of the weld/braze. This expands and contracts the piece in one axis, the two sides parallel to each other. This is required more for welding than brazing. On a large part it takes a second person with a second torch.

Brazing is well below the melting point of the cast iron. It is more like soldering when done right. In most cases it it like a glue repair (lots of buildup). There should be no danger of the ears melting but they WILL need to be held in place. Flux soon, heavily and often with borax. Coated rods are mostly a convienience but do help to keep things fluxed. 1/8" is a good size for general work such as this.

Vermiculite is the light fluffy pellets that is used in potting soil. Garden suppliers usualy carry it. Quick lime works as well. Dry wood ashes is also used. The point is to bury the piece to insulate it so it cools as slow as possible. 3"-4" all around is best. This is mearly a precaution on brazed CI parts but it doesn't hurt to cover all bases.

If you've never done a braze repair DO NOT PRACTICE ON THE PART! Break up another piece of CI junk and practice on that.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 17:04:16 GMT

Inventions: When things were invented and when they were patented and who did what first can be a lifetime argument. Between 1820 and 1930 almost every possible mechanical device was discovered, rediscovered, invented and patented. The problem with ALL current histories is that they promote the country of origin. Virtualy all Western "world" histories are Eurocentric. Its amazing that we even give the Chinese the credit for paper and gunpowder. . . They were generaly 500 to 1000 years ahead of Europe in most technical development. India was a huge supplier of wrought iron and steel to the world while much of Europe handn't fully entered the Bronze Age. There were great civilazations in Africa too.

The history of invention is the WORST! Most "firsts" are actully just the most famous. When you try to research the history of the machine tool American publications completely ignore the huge British advances except in a very few cases. The only British books I've read on the subject is James Nasmyths Autobiography and the Oxford history of James Watt and the steam engine. Both invented a LOT of important items. Both relied greatly on others work (as we all do). Both invented many devices in order to do their work that they are not famous for. Watt invented the pressure gauge and strip chart recorder. Nasmyth invented the feed reversing gear used on EVERY engine lathe built as well as many other machine tools. He considered it too basic and gave it away. He also invented the foundry safety ladle and purposely gave it away in order to promote a safer work place. Nasmyth also experimented with steam processing of CI to produce wrought. Bessemer admited that Nasmyth's work predated and was similar to his. Nasmyth turned down being named co-inventory claiming he had fame enough for one lifetime.

We in the West make a joke about the Russians claiming to be the first to discover many things that WE claim rights of invention. On Star Trek it was a running joke and one that was not deserved. Russia was a large isolated country and Russians made a great deal of important discoveries. A few were recognized outside of Russia but many had to be discovered independently elsewhere. Several years ago ASM distributed a book titled Tales About Metals, written in Russia and translated to Engish. As a Russian history of discovery it is very interesting. The author claims no "firsts", just states that so-and-so discovered such-and-such and when. Definitely a different view. It is not the West's view. But it is probably no less true.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 17:59:41 GMT

blacksmith images:

Here is one that might be useful:
tom   <don't spam.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 18:31:31 GMT


Nice spotting! I saved it.

April 14, 1905. Looks like somewhere on the western plains. A semi-permanent set up. With definite military influence.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 18:43:20 GMT

Re: Windmill hub

Thanks Guru, for the timely reply. I've been metal fabricating for quite a while, but until you came along I really haven't had anybody knowledgable to talk to. My referance to "melting the ears" was intended to be melting the opposite side "ear brazed joint." As I was not intending to try to resupport the ears (there at an angle)during brazing the second or back side. I was going to use my coal forge for the preheat heat source as I'm trying to justify its existance! but your probably right about the smudge or scale. So propane it is. Thanks again. Old Chief
Old Chief  <george_miles at hermanmiller.com> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 20:07:30 GMT

I have limited experiance, and no other iron banger in the area to watch. So, do you know a book or three that will help me learn to do iron gates and fences? Also, some titles of good, basic blacksmith books would be apriciated.
Thank you,
Jim Jones (Ottar)  <xian at allwest.net> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 23:19:09 GMT

Dear Guru(s),
I have read of making a forge from a cast iron sink and I was wondering if it would be practical and safe to use a stainless steel sink. It's fairly deep, so I could probably line it w/clay or something if necessary.

This is such a great site.

Al  <agarrard at rmy.emory.edu> - Wednesday, 03/14/01 23:24:28 GMT

Getting Started: Jim, For basic books see Getting Started and our book review pages. Most books on architectural iron are in the form of examples, not step by step how to. Check the book sellers listed in Getting Started. For step by step details see our iForge page.

NOTE: Tonight's demo is postponed to tomarrow (Thursday night) due to technical problems.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 00:52:42 GMT

I am looking for a blacksmith to make a wrought iron chandelier. Do you know of any in the upstate ny area or general northeast area. Thanks
susan  <sohj at aol.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 01:43:06 GMT

Tom - I to saved it. I try to save all pictures and poems. I am always looking for these. I use them in the local schools while working with the North Bay Muesum.
Barney  <barney at vianet.on.ca> - Thursday, 03/15/01 02:04:49 GMT

Could you please describe how the finish known as "blacksmith's finish" is applied. I believe this finish uses beeswax. I am not a metal worker or blacksmith. I am
looking for a simple method to darken and or create an aged appearance on bolts used in furniture assembly.
Bruce McCulloch  <Bruce.McCulloch.Reps at aph.gov.au> - Thursday, 03/15/01 02:04:53 GMT

1 cup Johnson's Paste Wax
1 Cup Turpentine
1 Cup boiled Linseed oil
1 cup shaved beeswax
2 Tablespoons Japan Dryer (Art Supply Store)

Melt ingredients together
Mix throroughly
Apply to WARM (not hot!) iron
Wipe excess off with soft rag
Allow to dry
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 02:20:34 GMT

Old Chief;
Wetting "tinning" the broken ends with braze just prior (while still hot)to joining them helps assure penetration. once one side of the ears are done, flip the part over and settle it into a sandbox to support the ears while you finish up the other side for insurance. Lotsa fluxing around helps.
ol' Pete F - Thursday, 03/15/01 09:39:50 GMT

To ol' Pete F Re: Windmill Hub
Ah, sink it in sand for support! that sounds like a good trick. I love it!
I suppose I need to still keep the casting hot while pouring the sand around it (and the sand too) what do you think??
Old Chief - Thursday, 03/15/01 14:54:47 GMT

"Old" Finish: Bruce, Paw-Paw listed one of many recipes. I listed one earlier in the week (look up). This finish assumes a steel part that has been heated to the point of having a black oxide "scale" finish. The wax finish mearly wets the surface making it darker. All wax or oil blacksmith finishes work this way. Even "burnt oil" finishes depend on the black scale for color and tooth to stick to.

In general I do not recommend these finishes because they require constant maintainence. They also do not impart an "aged" look. The heating and hand forging provides a hand made look but most smiths can tell new hand forged from old aged or rusted.

If you are starting with new hardware be sure it is not zinc plated. Then you have two choices, a black oxide finish or a brown oxide finish.

The black oxide requires heating the part to a red heat with a torch or in a forge. Afterwars it should be wire brushed with a fine brush to remove any loose scale. Then the part can be lacquered or waxed. Clear flat lacquer gives the same look as wax.

The brown finish requires a rapid rusting. Various chemicals do this easily. Liquid bleach such as Chlorox is very fast. After rusting the parts need to be rinsed in water, then a mild acid to neutralize the remaining bleach then a sodium bicarbonate solution to neutralize the acid, then water one last time. Then the part can be lacquered or waxed as above.

If you are using any type of high strength or hardened fastener then heating will ruin the temper of the part making it soft. Most special head wood fasteners and screws are hardened so that the driver does not distort the screw. Many are work hardened by the manufacturing process. In eaither case it is NOT recommended to heat these fasteners OR try to re-heat treat them. Consult the manufacturer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 15:09:31 GMT

nice addition to the features of this page. I really like the pull down menu. But then again I am a fat lazy good-for-nothing slob....(grin)
Actually it IS a nice touch. Well done and thanks!
Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Thursday, 03/15/01 16:07:07 GMT

Pull Down Menu: Ralph, Thanks! I'm trying to add it to all the pages. Many pages still need to be redesigned for the menu AND to be listed on it. When THAT is done then there will be a version for the members pages so that the menu keeps you on those alternate ad free pages. This page now has some duplication that needs to be worked around. .

The menu also includes our other pages like ABANA-Chapter.com and a list of our advertisers so you don't need wait for a banner or go to the directory page.

Its a LOT more redesign than I planned on. These pages are still designed to display on a 640x480 monitor (or a reduced window). I'd like to put the drop down menu next to the banners but it doesn't quite fit. . . . I wish I'd stuck to my original smaller banners. :(
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 16:44:59 GMT

Schools: Adam, Sorry this took so long. Check the ABANA.ORG page under education. The following is from there.

"One of the only programs in the country to offer a Masters Degree of Fine Arts in blacksmithing."

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
PO Box 4301
Carbondale, IL 62901-4301
(618) 453-4315


For more information about the program contact
Joyce Jolliff
Academic Advisor
School of Art and Design
E-Mail:jjolliff at siu.edu

There is also a school in Canada that is now offering a degree program in blacksmithing. Otherwise the rest are non-degree crafts schools. There is nothing wrong with that but they are generaly not certified.

Your best bet is to make your own curriculum. Study design or engineering at a college or university and spend as much time as you can (summers / breaks) at the crafts schools. In North Carolina there are many good schools such as Duke and UNC that are near Penland and John C. Campbell. UNC has a branch in Asheville that has a fine arts and sculpture program. That is one reason the 1998 ABANA conference was held there.

Check the ABANA schools list then look for colleges and Universities nearby. Take something technical that you can earn a living at. Merge your blacksmithing with it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 18:02:14 GMT

Notice to all,

Jock has phone problems as a result of all the rain, so the demo that was postponed from last night to tonight is cancelled. Hopefully the phones will be fixed as soon as possible.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 21:10:32 GMT

Thankyou Very much for the colledge references.

What constitutes surgical steel? I cant seem to find that anywhere, and lastly, What was the cancelled tutorial for tonight?
Thx much guru.
AdamSmith - Thursday, 03/15/01 21:50:54 GMT

Oh guru, i nearly forgot, I'm thinking of buying an Oxy/Mapp gas torch setup, but my father says it is probably much wiser to buy an Oxy/acetelyne setup. I trust my father, but it is my understanding that mapp gas is more stable, more compressible, and, well the Mapp setup costs about a fifth of the cumbersome Oxy/acetelyne setup. Before i make any purchase i would greatly appreciate some suggestion if you have one. Thankyou
AdamSmith - Thursday, 03/15/01 22:27:21 GMT


Your dad is right. Do you know what MAPP gas is?

Pro Pane

Go with the bigger Oxy/Acetelyne rig. It's a better buy IN THE LONG RUN. More bang for the buck.

OH! Yes, I've had both. First unit I got was a small Oxy/Mapp rig.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 22:45:26 GMT

Thankyou paw paw, Ahh, well, That $50.00 price tag was pretty attractive, but, it shall not come to my workshop. Time to do some serious saving$$$. the oxy acet, setup there was around 350$
Thx again.
AdamSmith - Thursday, 03/15/01 22:48:35 GMT

hello guru!
i read somewhere that i might be possible to make you own fire brick using clay and pearlite? is this possible and if so how??? as in what type of clay and where can these materials be obtained?
Thank You,
Scotsman  <albagobragh99 at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/15/01 23:52:13 GMT

[ anvilfire MEMBERS Group | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]
Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com Cummulative_Arc GSC