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This is an archive of posts from March 16 - 21, 2001 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Surgical Steel: Adam, Just another advertising buzzword. They use top grade cutlery steels. Mostly the stainlesses due to needing to be continously cleaned.

Refractory: Sman, There is a recipe for a moldable refractory mix that is refractory clay (fire clay), silica sand, Vermiculite and a little portland cement. I guess you could use it to make bricks.

If you have a source of refractory clay (it is natural clay in some places) you make bricks by the usual method. Sawdust or chopped straw is mixed in to provide permeability. It also lightens the bricks a little. There is an article on it in the Foxfire book that covers pottery and "groundhog" furnaces. Bricks are fired by building a "furnace" out of them and firing it with wood or oil. When the whole stack is up to a good red you let it cool.

Phone Yep, its working intermitently tonight. Water in the lines somewhere. . . :( Wasn't working at all earlier. Of course its not raining now. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 00:16:28 GMT

Fireclay - building or foundry supply - or dig it.
Portland cement - building supply
Silica sand - building of foundry supply - or dig it.
Vermiculite - Greenhouse or garden supply.

Its easier to purchase "moldable refractory" from a foundry supplier OR the refractory bricks. . . Moldable refractory requires making a wood mold box but is much cheaper than kaowool or bricks.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 00:23:22 GMT

Guru --- It sounds like you are having fun with the modern tech world. We get it up here to. But the winter its ice on the lines. SOmetime you are connected then next thing your are gone. Hydro same way, but I have a 8KW generator/welder in back shed, gased and ready. Neighbours eat your heart out. ALso burn wood for heat..
Barney  <barney at vianet.on.ca> - Friday, 03/16/01 01:03:45 GMT

hello guru,I'm toying with the idea of building a power hammer and am just wondering if you ever heard of a hammer that has foot treadle power (like a singer sewing machine)I like the concept of the beam hammers like the Bradley and the JYH with the 6 cyl. engine as the crank. The treadle powered flywheel will run an ecentric that is connected to the beam in the same manner as the above mentioned hammers (mainly like the JYH). I am also a fan of timberframing and would like to make the frame out of wood and sink a stump into the ground for the anvil. Am i wasting my time with this concept? Will it be too much work to run?Would love some feed back on the Idea.Thanks and GREAT SITE!!!
scott  <wolfsmithy at hotmail.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 01:39:28 GMT

Adam: I second Paw-Paw on the torch. I had on of those $50 oxy-mapp things, and they're worthless. Utterly worthless. You should be able to find a cheaper oxy-acetylene setup, though, I got mine new for $135. It's a cheap Harris, but I wouldn't get a non-name brand. I think the cheapest Victor is about $150.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Friday, 03/16/01 02:07:39 GMT


Talk to you welding supplier. Mine is National Welding. Usually the bigger outfits have a store brand. National does, and it sells for about half of what the same quality Victor sells for.

Guess who makes it?

Both of my rigs are National/Victors.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 02:13:58 GMT


Check your email as soon as you can.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 02:14:38 GMT

Wood Frame Hammer: Scott, Wood works fine. Helve hammers were 95% wood until the steam age replaced them with steam hammers.

Manual power is a problem though. Look at spring balanced tredle hammers. One strike per push. A crank mechanism would need a flywheel to store energy and then a clutch to extract the energy in short bursts. A little 1/3HP motor will outwork a man even for short bursts. A 1/2 or 3/4HP will run a nice little hammer.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 02:46:03 GMT

Do you need any special qualifications to be a blacksmith
Russell Pearse  <mulletfish at hotmail.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 04:03:32 GMT

what is the formula to turn mild steel into hard steel? I know one part of it is dish soap.
M.Cahill  <ccahill32 at aol.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 04:22:31 GMT

adam-- get the biggest, heaviest, highest-quality oxy-acetylene rig you can afford. go first class: two-stage regulators, flashback arrestors, the works. If you are serious about this endeavor, and it sounds as if you are, it'll be a lifetime investment. Harris makes wonderful equipment and best of all, their techs and service people are extremely helpful no matter what the problem. they fix their stuff when you break it and they stand behind it. none of this you have to go through the dealer malarkey. you might look for good second-hand equipment, but be extremely cautious and make the seller tell why it's for sale and SHOW you that the stuff works, all of it. buying used welding equipment as the great Tom McCahill said about buying a used sports car, is like buying a used rattlesnake.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 04:56:56 GMT

Special Qualifications: Russell, Patience is probably the most important. Then most smiths need an above average intelligence. When dealing with heavy objects, fire, explosive gases and large machines the dull witted do not last long.

Today most smiths other than those that work in big industry are self employed entrepreneurs. This means you need to be able to do everything from write a contract to doing ones own taxes and accounting. Then there is designing the product and researching the regulations governing that product. . . dealing with customers. The actual WORK of blacksmithing becomes a small part of what you need to know how to do.

Today's entrepreneur smith competes against welder fabricators and imported products. They sell products that are in most cases a luxury or extravagance. You don't need a smith to make a hand railing. You need a smith to make a handrailing that is a work of art. You don't need a smith to make lighting fixtures or chandeliers but you need one if you want classic forged custom work. It is a tough market. Most entrepreneur smiths can be classed "starving artists".

In fields such as bladesmithing and tool making the smith needs to understand both engineering and metalurgy. The bladsmith and armorer need to be well grounded in history and art. On top of the requirements of being an entrepreneur smith.

Patience and well educated in many fields.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 05:23:22 GMT

Fe + C (max 1.5%) = steel. Steel + heattreating = hard steel
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 05:24:58 GMT

Oxy-Fuel Welding Equip: Yep, cheap doesn't fly. I bought my first outfit from "where America shops". $250 in 1973 dollars (not cheap). I figured it was a standard that they private branded. . NOPE! It was custom made. Two years after I bought the "professional" equipment I went into blacksmithing and I thought I'd better get a range of tips other than the one cutting tip and three welding. . . None available. Discontinued! No parts available! I made phone calls, I wrote letters. . I complained.

I learned several hard lessons.

1) Buy from an established LOCAL dealer.
2) Buy a standard commercial product.
3) Get the range of parts and attachements needed NOW, not later.

That local dealer is the best friend you will have. Treat them right and they will treat you right.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 05:39:19 GMT

dry sand is reasonably insulating and refractory without heating...just upend the piece and bed it in. Try to keep the sand out of the joint and flux. The casting ought to have sufficient thermal mass to last till you plunk it in your ash, perlite or vermiculite to cool slowly. Keep the marshmallows out of the direct torch flame.
ol' Pete - Friday, 03/16/01 06:42:32 GMT

I second the guru and your dad...get a common brand so you can get parts.
Pete F - Friday, 03/16/01 06:48:50 GMT

What the good Guru left out is that it is necessary to be self-directed, be stubborn,like to play with fire and loud noises, and dont get tired of hitting things .
again? - Friday, 03/16/01 09:15:27 GMT

as to surgical steel for knives it it a buzz word that I have found means any form of stainless, but a friend that works for US Surgical (the comp that makes surgical staples)has infomed me that there is a materal requirments list for for there surgical tools if I remember right it has to do with the pourisness of the materal. I think that 300 stainless is used along w/Titaniun it isn't listed in any referance I have seen other than there in house lists and I would imagane that other comp. that do the same sort of thing would have ther own lists and requirments. just a tidbit of info I came acrossed.
MP   <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 13:44:07 GMT

One thing about buying a private vendor, name brand item. (National/Victor) If in the future you decide you need an attachment, the Name Brand attachments will probably fit. I've bought several Victor tips in different sizes since I bought my larger torch. All fit and worked flawlessly. I'm not particularly touting Victor, though I have been very satisfied with both the product and the vendor. But I am say (and I hope very clearly) that you should always know what you're buying.

Adam, the fact that you asked is a strong indication that you've already learned that lesson.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 13:57:29 GMT

Victor Equip: I don't recommend purchasing used gas welding equipment, but, *I* HAVE bought a lot as a result of buying boxes full of assorted goodies at auctions.

One of my best buys was a box full of welding tips, torches, fittings and bits and pieces. I wanted the steel tool chest, not the contents. Paid about $10. The Victor stuff in it was 30 years old and covered with typical weld shop gradue. It ALL fit my new stuff! Several pieces had buggered up ends. My dealer had reamers and thread restorers for Victor and for $15 labor I had an extra torch! That and some o-rings and I was ahead a couple hundred dollars ahead. Rare luck!

A BUNCH of the stuff was odd brand burnt up stuff that didn't fit anything. However, there was ONE Victor torch adaptor that took a thread-in tip (missing). IT fit the goose neck off my old "department store" torch. Now what was special about this was I had made a bracket to hang my torch on that relied on the swell of the part where tips threaded into the gooseneck. VERY handy. Especially doing small work where you are constantly putting the torch down for a moment then picking it back up. But my Victor tips don't use a gooseneck adaptor. So NOW I have what I call my "Vic-man" torch. AND its maintainable!

Dealers: Cracked pointed out to me that not all suppliers are top notch. His local is poorly informed, poorly stocked and couldn't care less. They must not have any competition. . . I've found in this business that the larger the dealer the better the service. The dealers that have large inventories usualy service industry and have a repair department with experianced folks. Most of these folks are pretty good. But there ARE exceptions.

On the other hand YOU as a customer can do a lot to cultivate the relationship with your dealer. Ask questions but don't be a nuisance. If they don't volunteer to look it up then you may be dealing with the wrong folks. Consider the signals you send when you purchase your equipment from a discounter THEN expect the dealer to supply fuel and service. . A business relationship is a two way street. Counter people at most suppliers get nothing but grief and harassment ALL DAY. A smile and remembering their name can go a LONG way. Even if you have a complaint, try to be nice. Let them know you don't blame them personaly. I know, it HARD to be nice in some of these situations.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 15:38:28 GMT

Would a small barbeque regulator work as a temporary regulator on a small one burner propane forge? Ron Reil style burner. Of course there would be a valve between the regulator and the nozzle. The adjustable guaged regulator cost as much as the whole rest of my forge is going to cost.
Anradan - Friday, 03/16/01 18:48:40 GMT

Anradan, No a grill regulator will not work, you need to be able to adjust the pressure. keep looking you should be able to find one for $30-$50.
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 19:35:46 GMT

No a bbq regulator isn't made for that duty. It is designed to put out about 12 to 14 inches of water collum (less than 1 psi). You need (depending on your burner design) 15 to 30 psi to run the burner. Do yourself a HUGE favor and spend the money for a good regulator and gauge.
Wayne Parris  <benthar at pacbell.net> - Friday, 03/16/01 19:39:27 GMT

I'm looking for plans to a vise that clamps with a lever something like a vise-grip. I saw a photo of it from a demonstration at a conferance but lost the link. I've been searching for this for days.
Mike R  <mikerice at sonet.net> - Friday, 03/16/01 20:55:04 GMT


Go to the anvilfire home page.
Menu Bar on the Left.
Click on the 21st Centruey page.
Scroll down to a little less than half of the page.
Click on "NEW! Clamp Paw Paw's!

Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 21:15:04 GMT

Paw Paw,

Thanks a lot. You are a blessing.
Mike R  <mikerice at sonet.net> - Friday, 03/16/01 21:20:07 GMT

Correct me if I'm wrong, but MAPP IS more stable and easier to store that acetylene. It burns hotter than propane, and plenty of people use oxy/propane rigs. But that $50 torch would still be worthless even if you could set it up to run on acetylene.
Mike B  <mbriskin at erolsnospam.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 21:25:02 GMT

Mike R.

No problem, hope that's the one you were looking for.

Mike B.

All correct. I use MAPP gas (the small bottles) in a "turbo" torch which has replaced the propane torch that I used for plumbing.

And your last statement is also true.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 22:04:28 GMT

Guru, Some time ago on the blacksmith's newsgroup, some smiths were discussing the bending of angle iron into a circle. I didn't catch exactly what they were trying to say (it was rather confusing). Could you expound on this?
Michael Smith  <roophus at msn.com> - Friday, 03/16/01 23:24:01 GMT

I am a welder who has been welding for 25 yrs. I want to try my hand at blachsmithing. I have some blacksmithing coal but I can not get it to burn. I was told it would have to be turned into coke. Could tell me how to do this? thanks
craig  <weldor01 at aol.com> - Saturday, 03/17/01 03:05:05 GMT

Craig, you have to start a small fire with newspaper & kindling & pile some coal around it & slowly add air to get it going, takes a lot of practice to get it right. If you still can't get it going, you might have coke already. I haven't used it but I've heard it's a real b%#$& to get lit & stay lit. Good Luck & glad you're joining us!!
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Saturday, 03/17/01 04:15:40 GMT

Anradan: My local propane supplier has adjustable propane regulators for $25. Check yours. Acet regs, which are often used, may be susceptable to problems due to the harsh nature of propane...that is also true of hoses.
Let me admit that in the sordid past, I have gimicked a fixed regulator or two to put out a higher adjustable pressure and while it worked, it was imprudent.
Pete F  <Ironyworks at netscape.net> - Saturday, 03/17/01 08:36:03 GMT

Gentelmen: Is someone out there who is using a Shop Outfitters pedestal roller able to give me some ideas about it? I wonder how efficient it is, how many passes you have to make to get smaller bends in heavier (3/8 x 2) stock, what kind of control you get from the hydraulic jack adjustment, how much scrap is created etc. They look like a good company but I would like to get a little user advice.
Don Agostine  <agostine at nwidt.com> - Saturday, 03/17/01 12:34:26 GMT

I just bought a nice rivet forge, the blower is marked Montgomery Wards. Any ideas on who actually made this for them? Are they of a particular value? Lastly, the blower gives a good volume of air , but it sounds as if it needs lubrication, is the gear and bearing case supposec to bill oil filled or greased or what. Thanks for your help.
Brian  <cornish at zoomnet.net> - Saturday, 03/17/01 12:54:13 GMT

Dear Guru: What do the initials O.B.I. stand for as in "O.B.I. punch press"? Thanks.
T.S.  <tscjkc at aol.com> - Saturday, 03/17/01 12:59:49 GMT


Speaking for Guru and myself, neither of us have any experience with the unit you're talking about.


Same answer as the one I gave to Don.

Folks, if there is a delay in answering questions this week, it's because "da boss" is inspecting my shop. C'yall next week!
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Saturday, 03/17/01 16:04:17 GMT

OBI: TS, That's Open Back Inclinable. The frame is split so work can be fed front to back as well as side to side and the base is adjustable so the work can be at an angle.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Saturday, 03/17/01 16:09:35 GMT

Brian: Most blowers use an oil bath lubrication system. Try filling the case with oil up to the bottom of the biggest gear so that about an inch of the the gear goes into the oil (motor oil will work fine, gear oil makes it tough to turn in cold weather). crank it slowly and watch the oil (hopefully) ride up the big gear and get spread to all the other gears and bearings. If it's like most, oil will leak from around the crank bearing. Don't panic, it's supposed to.
Alan L  <longmire at premiernet.net> - Saturday, 03/17/01 21:45:26 GMT

hello, i have been interested in blacksmithing since i was a toddler, and have tried what i could with a propane torch as a makeshift forge, i would like to know if you could either email me plans on how to make a simple but efficent forge or refer me to a site that has plans on it.

i would really be thankful if you could help me out.
Wesley  <Wes0307 at cs.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 02:13:05 GMT

acetylene or mapp, in the power plants here in New England we used mapp/oxy , it does work good and burns 200 degrees cooler than acetylene if i remember correctly ,we have victor cutting torches and even have rosebud tips that go in the cutting torch , they just haven't got the center hole in the tip so if you hit the lever by mistake no harm done. no matter which gas you go with i do agree with the others in previous posts that you get a name brand torch and gauges
Tom L  <Tjlapples at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 03:05:41 GMT

All you wish to know and more is tucked away in the nooks and crannies of this here Anvilfire.com....spend some time poking around...there are forge plans and links to more..plus!
Pete F - Sunday, 03/18/01 08:31:47 GMT

How do you bend the S-shaped scrolls in a wrought iron gate, so as they are nicely rounded and almost identical? I have not tried this before and have no special equipment.
Nigel Dean  <barb.nigel at talk21.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 10:25:08 GMT


Getting them smooth and even is a function of practice, mostly. But there are some drawings of jigs on the 21st Century Page, under benders. And there are two demonstrations on the iForge page.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 15:29:04 GMT

Help,i need to know how to detemper a steel file so i can bend it an it not break. thanks
bruce  <littlecookiedog at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 16:52:40 GMT

Could you tell me what the recipe is for super quench?
Mike C  <ccahill32 at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 17:02:33 GMT

super quench, 5 gal. water,5# salt, 1 bottle 28oz.dawn detergent,1 bottle 8oz. Shaklee Basic I
Tom-L  <Tjlapples at aol.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 17:26:27 GMT

I recently bought a Harbor Frieght knockoff of a Hossfield Bender... 59.99 !! couldn't resist. But, the instruction manual (38 pages) leaves a lot to be desired. I want to do some simple home type stuff...handles, brackets...etc. I'm having particular problems with the set up on the right angle die..

Can you offer any help ?? does anyone have a video available that could help a rookie with setup/use ??? I'm sure it couldn't be hard...not as hard as my head anyway

thanks in advance for your time and attention

john, the hard headed bender...
john niolon  <jniolon at wans.net> - Sunday, 03/18/01 21:00:57 GMT

Do you need any special qualifications to get started in the blacksmithing trade
Russell Pearse  <mulletfish at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 23:24:49 GMT

I have been interested in blacksmithing ever since I was little, and I've been trying really hard to get into it.
But I don't know how to get started in the trade, I've looked all around my area and there are no running blacksmiths, I was wondering if you know of a way that I could get into it, or get started, because I'm really interested in it and am really good with metal, and would love to do blacksmithing for a living. I am 16.
Russell Pearse  <mulletfish at hotmail.com> - Sunday, 03/18/01 23:36:11 GMT

File Bending: Bruce, Files are VERY high carbon steel and do bend well even if annealed (heat to a little above non-magnetic and bury in lime, ashes or vermiculite to cool as slow as possible).

I bend files to make riflers out of them by carefully heating to a low red and bending while heating then oil quenching. The butt end of half round files that rarely gets dulled makes a great spoon file. I heat with a cutting torch, bend and cut off the extra all in one operation to prevent repeated heating of the file.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 00:23:49 GMT

Benders: John, Hossfeld provides a very nice catalog with the setups for each die. I always thought it was self explanitory. Every die is different and some a real trick to figure out if you don't have the setup picture. But there is no step by step that I know of.

When using right angle dies on a lever type bender the corner of the inside die must be over the pivot OR the center of the bending radius must be over the center. The stock anchor (the thing that holds the stock against the die, or from moving) is adjusted to a loose fit. The bender can be a round roller or a flat pivoting block. It too is adjusted to a loose fit. The lever is set at a right angle to the bending block (die), the stock stuck in and the lever pulled. The corner will match the die more or less depending on the temper of the material.

Dead soft and you will have a nice right angle. Work hardened stock will spring back and not be as tight a bend. This makes the quality and temper condition of your raw material critical when cold bending. Most service centers WILL NOT garantee the temper. Unless you buy large quantities a pay for certs its the luck of the draw.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 01:08:30 GMT

RUSSELL: Your questions were both answered almost immediately after your first post. Look UP!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 01:11:18 GMT

Well PawPaw? How did the inspection go? (grin) Did you pass?
Or do you have about a zillion hours of KP?

Ralph  <ralphd at jps.net> - Monday, 03/19/01 16:02:04 GMT

Ok, Bad Anradan no biscuit for the bbq regulator.
I was talking to my local plumber/furnace guy...what about approx 10psi furnace regulator, wothout the second stage oz. regulator? Once again this is for a Ron Riel syle burner. He laims being able to run at approx 2psi. Would it work?
Yes I know that I should spend the $ and get the good ones...just can't at the moment and need to get this forge running.
Anradan  <tcanevaro at romperlandplay.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 16:12:55 GMT


I think I passed, haven't gotten the final report yet. (grin)


Go buy the two stage regulator! (grin) Yes, it's more expensive. But it will work better, last longer, and is MUCH safer.

When something goes wrong with a gas forge, they sometimes go BOOM! Do you want to be around when that happens? I'm NOT trying to give you a bad time, I just want to keep you in one piece.
Gas forges are great. I've got a Whisper Momma, and I love it. But it pays to remember that we are using an explosive gas for fuel.
Paw Paw Wilson  <pawpaw at paw-paws-forge.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 16:47:20 GMT

Hey Guru!
My 9 year old daughter has been given a school assignment. Her class is studying colonial history and she is to research and become a blacksmith. I've obtained some information from the web but not very detailed. Where was the Iron obtained, tools, etc. Would you kindly direct me to a website that can give me more information as to what the life of a blacksmith in that period of american history was like. Whether the blacksmith actually made the iron or he obtained iron in bar stock form and then proceeded to forge the item, etc. Any direction you could give me would be greatly appreciated by my daughter and myself.

Thanking you in advance!
Luis  <pmnpal at aol.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 17:35:05 GMT

I am interested in learning blade(knife and sword) smithing and am perticularly interested in damascus. I have now smithing experiance but am a machinist by trade...can anyone point me in the direction of someone that offers classes or app. near Bucks County PA.

Thans in advance,
Nick  <X-19 at prodigy.net> - Monday, 03/19/01 17:40:03 GMT

Luis, there are some good stories about the life of colonial blacksmiths on the stories page, under 21st century page on this site. Unless she is being supervised by an EXPERIENCED blacksmith, I wouldn't suggest a 9 year old trying to learn blacksmithing, if you're not careful it can be a VERY dangerous hobby!

Nick, check out this site really well, lots of good information. Also, get a copy of Jim Hrisolous's(?) books the Complete Bladesmith & Master Bladesmith. They are excellent references for bladesmithing and damascus. Start out with learning basic blacksmithing before you attempt blades, they are an advanced form of blacksmithing. Good Luck!
Mike Roth  <emeraldisleforge at emeraldisle.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 18:01:00 GMT

Regulator: Anradan, Paw-Paw thought you were talking about a gas furnace regulator NOT a domestic furnace regulator. Home builts run between 3 to 20 PSI. NC-TOOL forges run about 7. But remember to ALWAYS take gauge readings with a grain of salt. Gauges are rated at a percentage of FULL pressure. This often means that +/- 2 PSI is as accurate as they get. Unless that 2 PSI was measured with a very low range gauge it COULD be as high as 5 PSI! The furnace people check those low pressures with an actual water column gauge when using inches of head.

You need a propane regulator WITH a gauge. Range of both should to 0 to 30 PSI. Some things you can do cheap, this is something you should not.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 18:05:51 GMT

I have a very nice post vice, with one small problem. The Jaws are not quite parallel, leavinf about a dimes worth of space on the right ride when the left is pulled tight. What is the best way to square this up.

Also about the vice, the jaws only touch at the very top, not all the was down like a machineists vice is that normal? What I meah here is thet from the side the jaws look like /\ rather than ||.


Jim Freely  <freely at zephion.net> - Monday, 03/19/01 18:26:14 GMT

School Report: Luis, A Colonial American blacksmith bought his iron. All of it came from England in the beginning, later some was made here. By the time of the revolution our iron industry was exporting some iron to England. Almost all steel used for the hard parts of tools (hammer faces, cutting edges) was imported. Look for the book Pioneer Ironworks.

Wrought iron came in "Merchant Bars", 1" x 2" x ~70" they weighed 40 pounds. It was also sold in bars down to 1/4" or so for making nails.

Although a blacksmith could make all his own tools and made most, some tools were purchased. England had a huge cottage industry manufacturing tools that they imported to all their colonies in exchange for raw materials. Anvils, vises, files and small saw blades were almost all imported.

Almost all blacksmiths learned their trade by the aprenticeship system. In exchange for a fee AND the apprentice being a bonded laborer for 7 years they were taught the trade and would be provided a kit of tools so that they could be a Journeyman or a setup shop on their own. A good Mastersmith would teach the apprentice to make his own tools and provide the fuel, materials and time to make his kit as well as provide a few files.

The book The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer has good background on 18th and 19th century blacksmithing. The book A Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane is also good. There is little difference between blacksmithing 1000 years ago and today. Many smiths still make their own tools including hammers, punches, chisles and tongs. Most of todays blacksmithing courses include some tool making.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 18:33:08 GMT

Post Vise: Jim, The right to left problem is abuse and the vise has been twisted. Probably by over tightening with something in just one side of the jaws. To straighten the jaw the middle of the arm needs to be heated to a red heat and then twisted to align the jaws.

The vertical slope is normal in a leg vise in good condition. When gripping something about 1" across the jaws will be flush. When worn most of these vises develope a curved surface that still grips well but not at the top of the jaw.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 18:42:27 GMT

I have almost no experience in blacksmithing but fortunately I have access to a complete shop with any manner of anvil, vice, tongs, etc., and one very functional forge made out of the end of a water tank. My question stems from my trade. I restore older automobiles, mostly of the vintage racing type. My problem is the exhaust systems. There are bends in some of these systems that defy all known logic. Since I refuse to use any type of press-bending, I have been resorting to buying Mandrel bends of various radii and piecing together what I need. This is completely functional, but somewhat hamfisted in my opinion. My customers pay tremendous amounts of money and don't deserve this sort of rigging. I can make them look like a single piece of tubing but the inside always has the requisite inclusions inherent piecing together sections and MIG welding. Since these are mostly racing machines, anything that may impede airflow is not acceptable. Most if not all of my competitors use this piecing technique to reproduce systems that are no longer available. Most of them probably would consider blacksmithing out of place in our business but at the time of many of these machines' manufacture, I'm sure it was a vital process. As you can imagine, I want to do it better. Since I have access to this blacksmithing shop, I want to use it to bend and shape stainless steel tubing while maintaining the inside diameter and smoothness of the piece. It has to be possible, but I would like some input from someone with experience before I waste a bunch of expensive tubing trying to teach myself the process. I do have a good, working knowledge of metalurgy but absolutely no experience using a forge to produce what I need. Any input is greatly appreciated.
Sam Donaldson  <sam at insuringamerica.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 19:24:18 GMT

Fair enough PAW PAW,

However, this is a propane regulator rated for 10psi. With a valve between the regulator and the burner I should be guaranteed of NEVER having more than 10psi at the burner nozzle...That should work and should be safe, as long as I make sure that none of my connections leak...right? Propane Regulators are not as easy to find as a person might think where I am located. Most places have to order them in.
Anradan  <tcanevaro at romperlandplay.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 20:51:45 GMT

Hey Guru!
Thanks for the quick reply. My daugter's not looking to take this up as a hobby. Simply information. But I'll keep you words of wisdom in mind if she does decide to take it up as a hobby.
Luis  <pmnpal at aol.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 20:58:03 GMT

Pipe: Sam, There are a number of ways to bend tubing. None are the magic bullet you are looking for. Hot bending tubing is rarely done. When it is the tube is supported from the inside with a series of round chamfered plates on a cable. These are called "balls" but flat ellipsoids are better. Another cold bending method uses a coiled spring for support. Both must be sized for the tube. Neither are manufactured any longer that I know of.

Tight bends are made by filling the tube with a low temperature alloy (sometimes called "Bendalloy") consisting of bismuth, tin, lead and cadnium. Cerro Metals makes an alloy.

Cerro Metal Products Co.,
Alloy Dept.
P.O. Box 388
Bellefonte, PA 16823

Ice has also been recommended by some of our folks close to the artic circle where freezing things is easy to do. . .

There are hand benders for tubing. The trick is for them to be a snug fit to the tube and the tubing to be annealed. Heat can be used on the inside of the bend to help the thickening (upsetting) that occurs.

OBTW - I used to make exhaust systems for MG's and odd Austin's by your piecing method. I used support rings inside and brazed the pipe. I produced several systems for our Nash Metropolitians that the so called OEM type systems never fit correctly. Using pipe one size larger than the OEM takes care of the few obstructions caused by my support rings. My last Met had an MGA engine, MGB manifolds and head pipes. The rest had to be all custom fabricated. Unlike the OEM systems it NEVER rattled against the fuel tank!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Monday, 03/19/01 21:26:54 GMT

how can I find out, where I can do blacksmithing in the area around Naperville (~30miles), Illinois? I am already member of a historic village community, but there I don't really get to do the things I would like to since there are always visitors with a lot of questions.

Thank you for your help.

Michael  <sbargentina at gmx.de> - Monday, 03/19/01 23:53:41 GMT

I am in the process of repairing a auto open knife. I would like to know the temp to make mild steel into spring steel. The spring that opens the knife has broken. It is like a wishbone shape and I can't find a new one. I have built a few fixed blade knives but never one that opens with a spring.
Thomas  <Squareten at aol.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 01:03:04 GMT

I would like some information on the Western N.C. ABANA meeting at Penland. I just heard about it today and would like to attend, but I do not know when or where exactly it is.
P.S. I love your site!
Brandan Owen  <adeptdesigns at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 02:20:51 GMT

I bought a Champion Rivet Forge the othe day in very dad shape.I have it all apart and wondering if I can get bearings or use some other type bearings.This is a pic. of a good one the inside race is threaded 5/8 X 24.It has 2 , 5/8 and 1 , 1/2 I think it a 400 Champion Forge Blower. Thank you very much
Ronnie  <ronnie.hicks at gte.net> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 02:55:53 GMT

auto-opening, or automatic, or switchblade knives are federally banned weapons under the same law that forbids us to own meachine guns and sawed-off shotguns unless something happened since the last time I looked. now, where would I be if I told you how to bodge up a spring for that little beauty and you did and then somebody- not you, not you!-- got hold of it and fileted three nuns and a pregnant German shepherd with it? hmmm? would I be an accessory before the fact to three counts of first or second degree murder and cruelty to animals and an accessory before the fact of manufacturing and owning an outlaw shiv? Yeahhh, they are legal in some states. But using the phone wires to transmit this verboten lore, seems to me to run major risk of major trouble. any blacksmithing book will tell how to harden and temper a spring. and, p.s., it ain't going to happen out of mild steel.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 04:10:58 GMT

On bending tubing, A simple solution that a I have seen done (although never tried myself) is using sand to fill the tubing before bending. The sand is tamped into the tube rather tightly then sealed with a welded plug (I think)May need a vent hole though. The tube can then be heated where the bend needs to be with a large rose-bud. It appears to work well with 1 1/2" steel tubing, don't know if it will work well with other types of tube. May need to experiment a bit. TC
Tim Cisneros  <blacksmith at theforgeworks.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 04:15:19 GMT

Penland School is north of the town of Penland, northwest of Spruce Pine on Highway 226. Doug Hendrickson and Tal Harris are the demonstrators, things generally kick off about 8:30 or 9:00, Saturday 3/24. www.penland.org
John McPherson  <trollworks at hotmail.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 05:10:03 GMT

Spring: Thomas, Cracked is right (about the mild steel). You can harden mild steel somewhat but you have a high performance application that requires a spring or tool steel. You have a lot of studying to do. See our reading list in our Getting Started article
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 06:07:49 GMT

Illinois: Michael, Try the ILLINOIS VALLEY BLACKSMITH ASSOC or the Indiana association. Select ABANA-Chapter.com from the pull down menu. If you are looking to practice you need to put together some kind of forge and scrounge up an anvil. That and a hammer and tongs and you can do a LOT!
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 06:13:04 GMT

Bearings: Ronnie, I can't tell much from the photo. You need to check with a power transmission supplier but I've NEVER seen bearing with a threaded inner race and I've been in the machine business for a LONG time. The outer race looks like a standard. You might need to replace the inner race with pieces machined from O-1 or A-2 and then hardened while sealed in a stainless bag or inert atmosphere.

The real problem usualy is that the gears are worn out. These too are specials and are very costly to replace.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 06:20:59 GMT

A swap meet acet reg is the cheapest way to go but they sometimes have a limited life with propane....however,
,you do need an adjustable regulator that will clock 20 PSI. An undersized reg is also prone to freezing up on you just when you need the flow.
P-F - Tuesday, 03/20/01 06:38:50 GMT

Bending tube...supporting the sides so they dont spread while bending is usually important...stainless is extra work.
With practice,you can do it with wrinkle bending. Done right, all the wrinkles buldge outside the mean diameter of the tube.
Take an oxy-acet torch and heat a focused ring pattern around the tube favoring the inside of the bend in the width of the heated stripe...then pull gently on the end while coaxing the heated band with your torch. A bulge will form on the inside of the bend.
With the wrinkles pooched out, the turbulence shouldnt be too bad. Comes out looking a little like intestines.
Pete F - Tuesday, 03/20/01 07:08:24 GMT

To whom it may concern,
I am seeking a talented blacksmith that wants a challenge and that will help a legacy be fulfilled. I am a long time praticoner of the martial arts and is seeking some one to forge 2 weapons made of titanium One being a Katana, that other being an edged weapon of my design. All blue prints and drawings are yours and I will as generous as I can possibly be to make this dream come true.
I hope you can help!!!!
michael  <tmeckenzeeg at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 11:21:56 GMT

Tubing with good flow:

Sam, If the tubing is too big in diameter to mandrel bend as has been explained, you can tig weld it from pieces. Properly done with shielding gas inside, there will be very little to no imperfections to add resistance to flow. Find a local stainless steel sanitary tubing welder to explain it to you. Any sizable dairy or liquid food operation will have a good tubing welder in their maintenance department. Sanitary stainless tubing systems are designed to have no internal surface imperfections that can harbor trapped product which can decay and introduce bacteria to the product. You don't care about bacteria, but you do want smooth flow surfaces with no interruptions. Sanitary tubing is also much smoother on the ID than standard stainless tubing. To get the best flow, you will want to polish the tubing ID with a flex shaft and flap wheel or scotchbrite disc. I agree that mig welding stainless tubing is less than elegant.

Stainless tubing is harder to bend than carbon steel because of the work hardening.

Hot forge bending will result in suface imperfections that will add flow resistance unless you spend HUGE amounts of time planishing and cleaning the surfaces. Plus I'm concerned about what kind of grain structure you would end up with if you hot forge. Internal mandrel bending or tig welding pieces is the only way to produce the best product as far as I'm concerned.

The flange joints used in food grade stainless tubing work also have much less interruption to flow than typical exhaust flanges and can be very useful in piecing a system together. Probably not historically correct though. Grin.
Tony  <tca_b at mapsonmilwpc.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 13:47:04 GMT

I have a Meyer New Little Giant - 25# of unknown Manufacture date. I bought this 75 year old Blacksmith shop through shear luck. The newest piece of equipment is a 1941 vintage machine. My problem is it has been repaired so many times; I can not tell what the original settings or the original lengths of the parts. It will Hoola/Jiggle once and then hammer away. I know its out of time, but I don't know which way to adjust the sets. If you have any references to a 1911'ish model; I would appreciate some advice &/or ideas. Thanks, Mike
Mike Temple  <battlehammeriron at arn.net> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 14:18:53 GMT

I am trying to find a website for either Dmitri Gerakiris and/or Fred Borcherdt. They did a demo at Flagstaff last year on making a buffalo skull out of pipe. Any information would be helpfull. thanks
Todd  <ironoak at ismi.net> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 14:27:27 GMT

Hammer Adjustments: Mike, The best information on the subject of adjusting Little Giants is the Dave Manzer video tape that we sell (see Store or Bookshelf). For info on serial numbers and lots of general/historical information on LG's you want the Kern Little Giant Book. Centaur Forge sells it. It has some repair info that is OK and other that is just plain bad advice. There are no dimentions to help. Then, Sid Sudemeier has parts for Little Giant (See our Power hammer Page manufacturers list).

As-built some LG's have inherent adjustment problems (that can be cured). The spring (or toggles) should be adjusted until the toggle pins or ends make a straight line. Due to the way the toggle ends are on some hammers the arms should actually go UP at the ram rather than a straight line. If the spring is tired or the toggle replacements improperly made this may not be possible. The ram height should be adjusted so that the upper die is about 3/4" off the lower die. If the dies have replaced they are sometimes too low and the toggle arms can strike the guides.

Most important of all is to oil, oil, oil that hammer INCLUDING the clutch friction surfaces!

Last, many LG's are setup to run too fast. In that case no amount of adjustment is going to help. The Dave Manzer video explains all this and can help greatly in figuring out what is wrong.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 15:09:47 GMT

Why would anyone want "weapons" made of titanium?
Olle Andersson  <utgaardaolle at ebox.tninet.se> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 15:36:42 GMT

cracked anvil
I beleave that law was repeeled about a year or so ago it is not up to the state and the law it's self was vage as any pre-ban knife was legal to own but not to carry and post ban knifes were legal to sell and own(not carry) just not to import or manufacter. I beleve that now it is leagl to import/make them again but it is up to the local state for the laws on carrying/sales. I haven't read the amended law my self how ever I do know that switchs are on the market again. and a cop that is a friend told me that the fed. law had been repeeled.
I still wouldn't make any to sell as I don't know what the legality of that is. how ever owning one isn't a problem (here any way) so long as you don't carry.
MP   <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 15:54:26 GMT

I have an old metal stand that looks like it was made for drill bits. The holes are numbered from 1 through 60, with the lower numbers being larger holes. A 7/32" bit fits the #2 hole and a 1/16" bit fits the #52 hole. Is this some sort of special machinist's system?
Neal Bullington  <nrobertb at aol.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 17:18:36 GMT

Drills: Neal, In the common system drill bits come in fractional (to 1/64), letter (A-Z), and number sizes (0-80). The letter and number sizes are used for tap drills, press fits before reaming, ports and hydraulic orifices. Anyone doing machine work or precision work will have all three types plus metric. There is a little overlap where drills in one system equal another but only two or three if I remember correctly.

Tap drills for 1/4-20 are #7, #6 and #4.
Tap drills for 1/4-28 are #3, and #2.
Tap drills for 5/16-18 are F, G and H.
The three sizes are 75%, 70% and 60% threads.

Drill indexes are expensive and can be refilled for much less than the cost of the drills in an index.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 18:08:58 GMT

Titanium: Olle, That was my question. I guess someone has been hanging around the wrong forums. . .
Material Tensile Ksi Yeild Ksi HR(c) Density
Ti Alloy 180 168 35 4.5
Be Bronze
200 190 51-52 8.8
SAE 1060
118 70 23 7.8
SAE 5160 322 260 58-59 7.85

The above chart starts with the highest strength Titainium alloy. The hardness comparisons are a little tweeky because my references use different units for different materials and some may not be correct. However, as you can see a hard bronze is both harder and stronger than the best Ti-alloy. But bronze is denser, thus heavier than steel. Annealed medium carbon steel is almost as hard as the Ti-alloy. Alloy steels are stronger and MUCH harder and the best cutlery steels are often 62-63 HRc.

High strength Ti-alloys are used to replace mild or low alloy steels because they are either stronger for the same WEIGHT or lighter for the same strength. The light weight aspect is why it is used in aerospace applications and high tech bicycles.

The key is, stronger and lighter than common steels. But NOT a replacement for tool steels. People easily confuse exotic with superior, and strength weight ratios with ultimate strengths and forgetting hardness.

For superior weapons the most exotic AND superior steels are the laminated steels currently made by the top bladesmiths. If any other metal were superior to steel for these applications they would already be using it.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 18:34:40 GMT

In reference to anvils, I know what the Hardy hole is in the
anvil. I used to think I knew what a hardy was but now I find that they talk about a 'bottom' hardy and a 'top' hardy. If there is a top hardy, does this also fit into the hardy hole in the anvil when working with it? Thanks Bill
Bill Moraski  <billmor at ispchannel.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 19:35:23 GMT

many thanks for the legal material. I hope you are right.
Cracked Anvil  <cracked at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 19:59:19 GMT

Hardy: Bill, This is missuse of terms. Technicaly a hardy is ONLY the short chisel that fits the hardy hole. Other tools are chisels, fullers and swages. There are top and bottom fullers and swages as well as the same tools for power hammer use. Upper swages and fullers either have a through handle or a groove for a wrapped handle. Bottom swages and fullers commonly have hardy hole shanks but this does NOT make them a hardy. Tools of this type are sometimes called "hardy" tools but this is incorrect. They are bottom tools or bottom tools with shanks.

Handled chisels, fullers, punches and swages for power hammer use are solid with an extended handle made from the same piece. They are also as short as possible. When a top and bottom are needed they are made in the form of a spring swage.

A chisel with a handle is a hot cutter or a cold chisel. Hot cutters are relatively thin while cold chisels are thick. Hardies (with shanks to fit the anvil) come in both styles, hot and cold. The handled chisel is NOT a top hardy.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 21:34:26 GMT

hi, i know alittle(just returned from a 3-week with class with frank turley-wish i were still there- my question is about making forgeing dies, my partner is a self-taught smith and makes dies to use with his power hammer but they are breaking, can you suggest the proper tool steel, and the correct process for making forging dies(50 lb. little giant)he used 5160 tool steel because aknife maker suggested that. so, i sure appreciate any info you cangive, or a direction i can go to find out. thank you. vik in idaho
viki  <deluxe at ctcweb.net> - Tuesday, 03/20/01 23:56:23 GMT

Viki, I would suggest 4340 and follow the heat-treating direction provided with the steel. Better yet send the steel out to a professional heat-treater. We do very little of our own heat-treating and I'm sure my heat-treater doesn't do any forging. You don't go to the foot doctor with a tooth ach. Itís best to have hammer dies heat-treated by someone who does it all the time. The little bit of money spent to have the dies professional heat-treated is well worth it.
Bruce Wallace  <WalmetaLwk at aol.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 00:33:30 GMT

Breaking Dies: Vicki, The problem is most likely the dies are too hard or the steel was overheated if forged. 5160 is almost an air quench steel and needs to be drawn WAY back (tempered). Look at the hardness on the chart posted a couple posts up. As an alloy steel it must be treated carefully if forged. Overheating is disasterous. As Frank would say, "Tool steel just laughs at you". Your partner is being laughed at.

For impression dies without sharp edges mild steel works fine. You don't need expensive tool steel except for high production OR dies with sharp features in the dies.

For the permanent hammer dies themselves SAE 5160 is good but must be carefully tempered. SAE 4150, 4340 or similar is more common in industrial hammers and several makers of small hammers use 4140. Bull uses H-13 but this is expensive and probably overkill. Hammer dies must be correctly fitted to the dovetails and wedges. The corners should be rounded for several reasons. 1) to prevent marking the work, 2) to prevent loading and spalling the corners if the dies strike each other and are missaligned.

If clamp on dies are used a lot the lower die should be a plain flat die. Many combination dies have steps in them on the rounded side or are worn uneven. This is a bad surface to support a long clamp on die.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 01:26:43 GMT

Guru, I am in the process of building a Batson style forging
press. My problem is I want to mount the cylinder without using a slide plate. I would like to know how to go about this!
My thoughts lead me to using longer cylinder bolts, and mounting the cylinder end through a 2" plate. The cyl. barrel going through. Any ideas? I saw a 50T. H-Frame, but I didn't see how they mounted the cyl.
Geoff  <poohcornerforge at qwest.net> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 01:36:28 GMT

Cylinder Mounting: Geoff, First you have to consider the frame deflection. Steel is like rubber. A cantelever bracket supporting a cylinder is going to deflect a LOT. Under this type of load a 2" plate is nothing! As it flexes the position of where the end of the cylinder rod WANTS to be will be greater by the ratio of its length to that of the center of the bracket. Easily an 1/8" (3mm). In other words you are garanteed to put the cylinder in a bind. To support a cylinder in this type machine you either need a heavy side frame OR better, a two column frame with the support plate centered on the columns. Pin end mounting at both ends is best. Then the frame can deflect all it needs without hurting the cylinder.

Cylinders come with different mountings. Some have pin ends, others have flanges and some are either made to be bolted on as you want via the end cap OR a heavy bracket that adapts the end cap for this purpose. A few have heavy threads on the end of the cylinder so they can be threaded into the mounting plate. There are dozens of standard mountings depending on the manufacturer. Modifying the mounting means taking on the engineering yourself.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 05:51:13 GMT

Switchblade: Cracked found the following at Lawlinks.com. It is current as of 01/26/1998. If it has since changed I could not say. However, the law is very clear in definitions. There is nothing vague about it. If you have a current source then let us know. Otherwise here is what appears to be current. I only copied the penalty below. The link has the rest.


Sec. 1243. Manufacture, sale, or possession within specific
jurisdictions; penalty - Whoever, within any Territory or possession of the United States, within Indian country (as defined in section 1151 of title 18), or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7 of title 18), manufactures, sells, or possesses any switchblade knife, shall be fined not more
than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 06:07:57 GMT

give me all the information on blacksmithing now
robert  <skatebdr90> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 06:10:02 GMT

INFO Robert, All you need is here, now.

Switchblades: A search of the GPO site of Federal regulations found:

1) It is illegal to IMPORT switchblade knives, parts or kits.
2) It is illegal to possess a switchblade on certain Federal properties, Midway Island, military bases, VA facilities and the Pentagon (UNLESS you are "one armed").

Otherwise other prohibitions seem to have been removed. The title and section above are now something else. But that means that state laws are in force.

- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 07:16:57 GMT

I have a question. I'm just finishing off an air hammer that I just build,it has an 100 lb hammer head and a 220 lb 6.5" shaft for an anvil, 4"bore air cylinder WITH a travEL of 11" I have my 4way valves,an roller valve,an foot valve,an pressure regulator,an W.o.g. VALVE, but my compressor is a 3 hp. with not all to large a tank and likely be gasping for air to make it cycle. I had an idea of using a 16"x 10 ft. steel pipe WITH AN WALL OF 1/4" with the ends caped WELDED WITH 1/2"PLATES AND AN STEEL ROD RUNNING OUT THROUGH BOTH PLATES AND WELDED TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE PLATES FOR SAFTY USING THIS for an air storage to propel this air hammer. Would this idea work or am I'm looking at danger in the eye.iT WOULD BE RUNNING AT 100 PSI.pLEASE ADVISE ME.. tHANK YOU.
Heinz  <hlzach at prcn.org> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 06:40:23 GMT

Guru--I'm considering the block type anvil as described in 21st century blacksmithing. I'm having difficulty locating a service center who can accomodate. (even though I'm near Pittsburgh, Pa.) I'm just getting started at blacksmithing but have forged a few knives and this type of anvil seems to be more than satisfactory. Is there a particular J.T.Ryerson location which perform this? Also, could 4340 steel work? Thank you. Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson  <tjrn1957 at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 06:59:47 GMT

Tank: Heinz, ALL pressure vessles require engineering approval by a PE, fabrication by a certified welder/shop, inspection by the proper authority and labling according to various government and associations.

You can build your own but its not worth it.

You need a LOT more anvil for your hammer. Min ratio should be 5:1, 10:1 is OK, 15:1 is best.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 07:25:10 GMT

Anvil: Tim, Any Ryerson (now Tull-Ryerson) location should be able to help you. Check their website for the nearest center.


4340 is fine. Grinding may not be available at all sites nor affordable. Good machine cutting is smooth enough that very little hand grinding is required.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 07:34:59 GMT

Ryerson-Tull: Tim, They have centers in Fairless. Easton, Pittsburg and Philly. 4140 listed up to 10" (They used to stock 18")

Let me know how you come out and what they quote you. Its been about three years since I updated that article. The last time I did business with them they had free delivery to most cities in the East. You MIGHT need to meet the truck.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 07:56:32 GMT

Heinz, Listen to what Guru said about building your own air tank,could be very dangerous, pipe sometimes has a pressure rating stamped on it , that is at 100 degrees Far.,as temp goes up rating goes down , on some materials rather quickly, two pieces of pipe may look identical , one may work and the other would take out the shop
Tom L  <Tjlapples at aol.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 10:27:25 GMT

Guru---Thank you so much for your prompt and informative reply. (not to mention your great site!) I will inform you of my findings on the Ryerson-Tull 4140 anvil. Tim Johnson
Tim Johnson  <tjrn1957 at yahoo.comGuru> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 13:01:06 GMT

Pressure vessel: Heinz, instead of telling you it's not a good idea, I will tell you it will FAIL. (grinning, but not kidding). The problem is the ENDS. Flat plate ends are absolutely no good in a pressure vessel. The rod down the center would be better than nothing, but the stress level will be too high and there will be HUGE stress concentrations at the rod weld and the weld between the tube ends and the flat plate resulting from the deflection in the flat plate. The pipe itself at 16" OD, 1/4" wall is marginal. I'm assuming this is welded mechanical tubing since 16" schedule 40 pipe has a wall thickness of 1/2". If the pipe is rusted, or bent, it will not be good enough. Even in New condition, the recommended stress factor of safety is about 4. That is not good enough. No engineer will approve that setup. New tubing with dished pressure vessel ends, properly welded, maybe.

Remember that when pressure vessels filled with a gas fail, the expanding gas turns the broken bits into high velocity shrapnel with sharp jagged edges with big sharp fangs that love to tear apart fragile human flesh.

Jeez, I should write scary kids stories, huh?

The other thing to remember is that while a larger tank will give you more run time, it also takes much longer to fill up to pressure.

4" bore is a lot of cylinder. You will need a good frame too.

Please also remember that with a kinyon style circuit that uses trapped air to cushion the hammer, the pressure spikes can be MUCH higher than the compressor output. The air spring in my JYH approaches 2000 psi. Forged fittings and valves are required. The pressure developed in a kinyon style circuit may not get that high, but with a big hammer and fast speeds, it can easily get higher than the 300 psi rating of some fittings and valves.

Good luck with your project!
Tony  <tca_b at mapsonmilwpc.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 13:11:48 GMT

Trapped Air Cushions: Tony, That's IF Heinz is using an a cylinder with end snubbers. Most don't and this sounds like a recycled cylinder. Even with the end snubbers the hammers I've seen will extend all the way fast. They aren't designed for the inertial loads a hammer applies. Kinyon recomends a spring. I recommend a heavy cross plate with springs and shocks for an upper snubber. Even then, the hammer should only occasionaly hit the snubber. The reversing switch normally needs to engage well before the top in order to slow and stop the ram before it hits the snubber.

Yeah, I knew that tank design would NOT pass muster but at 3am last night I wasn't thinking as clear as I should.

In North Carolina the state has its own OSHA inspectors. To maintain this status they must be equal to ar stricter than the Feds. When it came to compressor tanks they just plain said that if its over X (I can't remember - 3 maybe) years old it had to be taken out of service. This resulted in LOTS of used compressor tanks on the East Coast. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 14:44:44 GMT

To Barney.....can't get an email to you.....will send out the book today....may take some time to get there.....thanks Mikey
Mikey  <pbrs at 1wv.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 15:02:13 GMT

Vessels again: Guru, NO criticism intended. I just thought I'd explain a little more in case others were wondering. I like to add to answers sometimes since I always want to know why too. (grin) You can let me know when I go to far. I won't be offended. Just trying to help some.

The design concept of a retaining rod to restrain the flat plate will work, but much more than one rod would be required for Heinz' vessel. And we don't know if Heinz is a certified pressure vessel welder, etc, etc. No offense Heinz! As you said, it is much better to get a real pressure vessel.

Horizontal (and some vertical) fire tube boilers use that concept. A cylindrical pressure shell with flate plate ends and the fire tubes are swaged into the end plates. The fire tubes hold the end plates from deflecting. The most interesting pressure vessel I've seen to date is the boiler from a Stanley Steamer. Thin shell cylinder wrapped with piano wire to take the tensile load off the thin shell. Fire tubes swaged into the flat end plates to restrain the end plate deflection. Historical accounts say they tested the design by welding the outlet shut and setting them in a hole in the ground and put the fire to them. Supposedly, they never had a shell explosion. A swaged tube would leak first and usually put out the fire by starving it of oxygen. At well over 3000 psi steam. I thought the piano wire was particularly elegant.

On the pressure spike thing... If the cylinder has a cushion or snubber built into the end cap, it will most likely handle the prssure spike since it is contained within the solid end cap. What I was talking about was the pressure spike in the main cylinder cavity due to the trapped air. Even if the main valve is a 2 position valve, and the switch valve operates as it should, if the operator closes the foot exhaust, everything from the foot exhaust to the cylinder becomes the air spring. The energy of the hammer must be conserved. F=ma, etc. If the hammer is big and is operating fast, the force to slow it down quickly must come from the trapped compressed air and the pressure WILL spike to provide the necessary force. Even if the piston doesn't contact the end cap, the pressure may very well exceed the pressure rating of the cylinder, hoses, valves, fittings etc. Just a caution. I'd like to see someone put a peak pressure recording gage on a big hammer kinyon setup. Bill Cottrell?? With my 130 poundish hammer and at 270 beats per minute, the theoretical (less friction) pressure in the spring cylinder on the JYH is just less than 2000 psi. The kinyon circuit has more spring volume and most hammers are less weight and most operate slower than that, so the peak pressure is lower. But how much? I forgot that kinyon recommends a spring. I agree that there should be an external snubber if one can't do the engineering. I know there are lots of Kinyon hammers out there and I don't mean to cry wolf, but people should know what is ocurring in the equipment next to their face. Grin.
Tony  <tca_b at milwpc.commapson> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 16:36:14 GMT

Guru thank you for the corection on the law I was about half right and I am sorry I didn't check up on the law before I posted. Some one could have gotin in a lot of trouble on the half I was wrong if you hadn't takein the time to look it up. thank you again and my humblest "I'm sorry" to you
MP   <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 18:22:04 GMT

Switchblades, Last Word?: MP, The last thing we found was that the old law as originally quoted was still in effect as of October 26, 2000 (5 months ago) according to the GPO site. This makes manufacturing and simple possesion illegal with a fine of up to $2000. - I figured this must be true if were still plainly clear that they couldn't be imported. However, there are a few exceptions including law enforcement officers and the "one arm" rule. However, both require permission and there is no mechanism in the law. . .

15USC29.1243 - I tried to reproduce Cracked's search but the GPO computer is too slow for me to wait today.

The on-line GPO information is the most up to date information there is. They publish and distribute the Federal laws and have the information first. So it appears the law is still on the books. It may not be being enforced but that is another thing.
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 19:53:48 GMT

Guru, would you have any advice on how to put a nice finish on comercially pure titanium?

AdamSmith - Wednesday, 03/21/01 23:01:48 GMT

I am in a shop where we heat treat springs.Is there a general table that tells you what the change in diameter would be? For example:When springs of different diameters are cooked,is there a table that can calculate the change in diameter?
Scott Kubi  <Hvymtlscott at hotmail.com> - Wednesday, 03/21/01 23:53:59 GMT

It would apper that I was not only half wrong but totaly wrong I stand corected. the main reasion that I had thought I was right was I had noticed that they have been on sale in stores and catalogs. (after the first of this year or so) it would now appear that these were and are illegal. thank you for corecting me..again.
MP   <swordmatt at yahoo.com> - Thursday, 03/22/01 00:00:15 GMT

Laws: MP, As I mentioned, the laws MAY be on the books and not enforced. It is hard to tell. You may still be right.

In Virginia all the "blue" laws are are still on the books (I think). Technically it is illegal to wash a car on Sunday (either for yourself OR for pay), to sell food that needs to be prepared (but resturants could be open), have a "non-essential" business open (service stations could sell gas, fix a flat, water pump or belt BUT could not wash your car. . ). They go on and on and are all similarly hipocritical. After a merchant revolt about 20 years ago the state attorney general said he would no longer prosecute the "blue" laws. . . But that doesn't mean some future zealot won't. There are other such laws in many states governing everything including types of sexual conduct between consenting adults that are generaly not prosecuted but occasionaly are. . .
- guru  <guru at anvilfire.com> - Thursday, 03/22/01 00:14:30 GMT

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