WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

THIS is a forum for questions and answers about blacksmithing and general metalworking. Ask the Guru any reasonable question and he or one of his helpers will answer your question, find someone that can, OR research the question for you.

This is an archive of posts from March 1 - 8, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Not be beat a dead horse about flatness, but I have a case in question. I have a brand new double horn anvil (450 lbs) that spans 42" in total length. The round horn makes a nose dive of almost 3/4" from the top surface plane and the opposite horn tapers off to be 1/4" lower than the central body of the anvil. Am I asking too much for a straight and true face or are these kind of tolerances the norm. Thanks for your input,
   chris - Friday, 03/01/02 03:28:17 GMT

Chris, I have a new 200 kg Chech cast steel anvil, the model with this neat little extra thingi horn coming out 90 degrees to the side, all 3 horns sag, and there was a groove in the surface of the main body which took some hours to grind out, BUT::: the surface of the main body has a rebound of 90 to 95 %, the horns are softer, obviously they knew their heattreating, they wont break off AND:::: the price was very right...
   Stefan - Friday, 03/01/02 06:53:21 GMT

Does any one out there know a traditional way to "christian" a new forge ?
   wayne - Friday, 03/01/02 09:49:16 GMT


Build a fire in it. (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 03/01/02 12:26:50 GMT


I have some questions concerning the different brass and bronze alloys that exist and their characteristics.

Can you please tell me if the percentage in the alloy in copper determines its color?

What kind of brass is the one called "Tombac brass" and color does this alloy have?

I have also seen the name "Red Brass Wire" (usually 85-90% of copper). Does this means that the wire has a red color?

Are there both brass and bronze alloys that have red color?

Thank you very much.
   George Chrysochoides - Friday, 03/01/02 13:03:37 GMT

In australia i have not been able to find any information on Sullivan air hammers Iwould appreciate if anyone could supply me with any manuals or operators instructions Ihave been smithing for just on 25 years and have decided to get my Sullivan up and running Strickers hammers are starting to become hard work
   Scott - Friday, 03/01/02 13:18:09 GMT

Aaaawh, Pawpaw, don't be cruel to us YOU must be able to make something up.
Like: use most expensive brandy around for fire lighter, and charcoal made from juniper for sole fuel the first day (even in a gasser).
Then, as an offering to the gods/ goddesses of smiting and metal-crafts, he must cook 2# of prime meat (salmon may do) over the gently glowing coals without eating any of it, this after a 2 day fast (with nothing but water).
The food must as usual go to ashes :-)
What do you think, can we call this the official christening of a forge?
Anyone with a better, more elaborate one?
   OErjan - Friday, 03/01/02 13:37:18 GMT

   OErjan - Friday, 03/01/02 13:42:12 GMT

hmmm, it seems that everytime I forge I make an offering of steel to the fire gods. Of course, it is generally not on purpose . . . ;-)}
   Escher - Friday, 03/01/02 14:17:57 GMT

just a short question. chapter II of book II in Revolutionary blacksmith is expected when??
   OErjan - Friday, 03/01/02 14:21:13 GMT

Escher: good point, perhaps an offering of high prised expensive aloy steel should be in there aswell.
   OErjan - Friday, 03/01/02 14:30:04 GMT

Pete, for your belt grinder.... Go Kart tire, wheel, and hub. I know those are made 8" ish OD and 8 inch wide. 60 mph is 5280 feet per minute, so no speed worries. No tread. Pretty well balanced too. I played at speed racer with Karts for a couple of years but sold out a few years ago. Hubs to fit shafts 1 inch and up. Should be able to get used tires for nothing from a racer. Have to be taken off when the wear indicators are not showing. Buy new rim halves though.
   Tony - Friday, 03/01/02 15:36:13 GMT

Rules for christening a new forge:
1. All activities must be performed at midnight during the last quarter of the moon.
2.Shop should be purified prior to the event by smudging with a mixture of cedar, charcoal and borax.
3. Fuel should be appropriate to the type of forge being christened. (gas, coal, charcoal, elephant dung, etc.)
4. Ignition of the forge must be performed by a fresh match from a new box purchased especially for the event.
5. Liguid libation must be a good quality brew encased in glass. This means no six pack of cans from the local 7-11.
6. Forge owner should be enthroned on a comfortable seat. Not the anvil, you might fall off.
7. The initial firing can only be performed by a well endowed naked virgin, while two other naked virgins dance in a circle around the forge chanting the verse. ( You are a god oh great blacksmith, you are our hearts desire, we are here to serve your every need.) See why you dont want be seated on the anvil?

Heads up. You have only four days to gather the required materials and participants. Better hurry. Might be hard to find everything. Sometimes the 7-11 runs out of longnecks.
Larry, time for me to start another forge.
   Larry - Friday, 03/01/02 15:57:43 GMT

Story Page OErjan! Its only a few hours into the day. . . Well, nearly noon here.

Both Revolutionary Blacksmith Book II and Ray Smiths Notebook have been updated.
   - guru - Friday, 03/01/02 16:41:57 GMT

Forge Christening I usualy sacrifice my eybrows and mustache to the lighting of a new gas forge. . . >;)

But I REALLY like the idea of dancing Virgins. . . Hard to come by these days. I think it was the great Beau Hickory that last managed to arrange for scantily clad Viking handmaidens to serve as forge assistants.

We can all dream. . . The reality usualy is several fat ugly blacksmiths with their eybrows singed off, their Carharts smoldering and the SMART one, that still has his eyebrows, hiding behind a pickup truck drinking the beer and occasionaly snorting some as he laughs hysterically.

   - guru - Friday, 03/01/02 16:58:37 GMT

Sullivan Air Hammer Scott, I'm afraid I've never heard of that one. I suspect it is British made but At one time hammers were manufactured in Australia such as the Kalgoory.

Most of these machines are pretty simple AND most of the old manufacturers of industrial duty self contained hammers are either out of business or no longer making hammers. The bigeest problem with all hammers is lack of lubrication and the biggest setup problem is the motor RPM if the motor is missing. Many of these machines used special order low speed motors. If you don't know how fast the machine should run you can usualy judge by a similar machine of another make. Most hammers of a similar size and type had very similar operating parameters.

Send me a photo or two if you can and or give a better description and we will see what we can do.
   - guru - Friday, 03/01/02 17:09:03 GMT

New Anvil Flatness: Chris, In modern metalworking, NO those are not normal tolerances. The worst most old worn out metal working machines can do and still operate is usualy +/- 1/16" or +/- 1.6mm. But any machine in a reasonable state of maintenance will normaly produce surfaces +/-.005" or +/-.13mm over that length and +/-.001" (.03mm) is common. However, a "tolerance" assumes a "specification". If there is no specification or stated flatness then anything goes. In this case it appears that modern machinery is not in use. Some sort of hand grinding is being used.

The surface of a machined part will often have numerous requirements, squareness or perpendiculatity in one or more axis. Parallelness to an opposite surface. Flatness and surface texture or finish. In the old days all of these were controled by the quality of the craftmanship and most individual workers took responsibility for doing the job right. When machine tools took over most finishing tasks they normaly did it faster and better so a "machined finish" was often the only spec you needed. Today, lack of pride of workmanship and often management that cuts corners and doesn't care if they deliver a poor product has forced buyers to insist on detailed specifications. If there are no specifications then there can be no complaints other than a general "I'm not satisfied".

The caveat, "You get what you pay for" also comes to mind. Or as Stefan noted, "the price was right".

Several years ago I traded (plus some cash), nearly identical anvils with a fellow. He had a 128# M&H Armitage Mousehole anvil but the logo M&H Armitage and mousehole had been marked out with many chisel marks. The face of the anvil sloped about 1/4" to one side (it was not parrallel to the base) and had a sway (curve) of about 1/32" in the face with a little more toward the low side. I am guessing this was a "second" as the makers name HAD been on the anvil and then marked through. It still had the serial number marked clearly on the foot. My anvil was the same size and weight as well as having roughly the same wear and tear. But the face was flat when checked with a light and a straight edge and it had the usual M&H Armitage markings. We traded anvils plus he gave me $25 or $50. . I later sold the "second" as that had been my intention with the first.

Now that anvil collecting has become a big thing I wish I had kept the "second" as an oddity. But the point was that in the 1800's M&H Armitage had a degree of quality control and inspection that wouldn't let an anvil out of their plant with their name on it if it wasn't right.

The only NEW anvil I have ever owned was a Peddinghaus. They may use the best manufacturing methods but the finish on the horn was TERRIBLE. If I had purchased it new rather than trading for it at wholesale price I probably would have returned it. BUT since there were no finish specifications it would be a hard point to argue. I'm told they have improved the quality of the finish. I hope so.

On a 20" face of my 300# Kohlswa there are dips of about 1/64" (.015"). These are towards both ends of the face so I would assume it is from grinder run off. My 200# Hay-Budden which is considerably older has the same dip at the heal and a slight sway toward the front. Both have seen a lot of abuse as well as being hand dressed but I would guess that the faces are close to new. They were not perfectly flat.

The horn on many anvils slopped upward because they used to be soft and eventualy would sag from use. Being sloped upward meant that they could sag more before they looked droopy. However, European anvils that didn't have a step generally had the top of the horn inline with the face.

NEW Peter Wrights had a very noticable crown down the center of the face. This was to help compensate for future sag that they KNEW was going to occur. Peter Wrights were considered the "best" at one point but I think their insistance on the highest quality wrought iron in their anvil bodies resulted in an anvil that sagged more from use than their competitors who used scrap iron (and I suspect some steel) in their anvil bodies. In any case the worst sagging anvils I've seen were Peter Wrights, not matter what the reason.

IF there was no specification then whatever the manufacturer's "standard" of quality happens to be is what you get.
   - guru - Friday, 03/01/02 19:39:13 GMT

Oerjan, make a fire with a bowdrill, and dance around the forge sprinkling it with wine and singing blacksmithing songs:)

   abe - Saturday, 03/02/02 00:05:59 GMT

For anyone wanting to build a historically correct looking bellows circa 1850's, there are about seventeen really good photos of one for sale on Ebay today. This is a really nice looking great bellows, with enough photos to give an excellent pattern to work from in building one. The inner details, of course, aren't shown, but those have been posted before here. It might be worthwhile getting the owner to allow archiving of the photos for later use, if someone knows how to go about that. The link is:


Hope this helps someone. Heck, I wish I could afford to buy the thing, just to have it!
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/02/02 01:05:41 GMT

Oh Guru,
Please tell me what the optimum 'cure' time should typically be for cast anvils, before the machining process can safely be accomplished. If the requisite cure time is not maintained, then what is the chance of slumping horns and irregular face surface tolerances?
   chris - Saturday, 03/02/02 02:15:41 GMT

Aging Castings: In another age the cast iron castings for precision machine tools were aged for a year before machining. This was done for lathe and planner beds. Most other castings went from the foundry straight to machining. Today you are lucky if the casting isn't still hot when it reaches the first machining operation.

Your anvil was ground crooked, it didn't warp. If it was going to warp it would have done it during heat treating. It was ground afterward.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/02/02 03:35:15 GMT

vicopper, Thanks, saved and permission asked for use.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/02/02 04:33:54 GMT

MP...did as you suggested, seem like good folk...as you guessed....about $300 ( best price so far)
Am turning a roller up out of very old, hard doug fir...when it doesn't work I'll get more sensible.
Tony...good leads and thought as usual...useds to thinking of conveyor rollers as dinky...but in the industrial world, mmmm, will check it out.
Crowns can be arranged ( G).
Balancer? Like for tires and driveshafts? The nearest driveshaft shop is over 2 hrs drive. Have Mickeymoused the balance on my home made stuff but the job is less than elegant.
Looked thru catalogues for an inflatable tire/wheel assembly when I was originally building it...thought that the inflation ought to control the crown but nothing i saw seemed quite right.
Bob B; Amen, count fingers reverently.
I'm grateful for your help gents!
Adam; I used an 100xx work hardening rod repairing my anvil and then peened the stuffing out of it with a small air hammer. It is still a little softer than I'd like.
Wayne: the ancient practice of burning a christian in each new forge is a tradition we would rather leave in the tortured mists of antiquity. besides, they complain a lot more than they used to....Instead, I'd suggest that you buy a magnum of good champaign and drink it THINKING SMITHLY THOUGHTS.
Ooop, strike that...follow OErjan's lead...Tony again...go cart wheel..good idea, good style too.
Larry and the guru kick into gear and a splendid tradition is born...it will be hundreds of years old by dawn I'm sure.
But , uhhh, Guru , dancing virgins, umm strike that for modern times ...ummm striking dancing lady strikers really shouldn't be hard to um. come by. Why doesn't that sound right?..Oh 2:15 AM...yawn...nite all.
   Pete F - Saturday, 03/02/02 10:12:50 GMT

I was wondering if any one could tell me the proper procedure for welding 1/2 plate of 500 brinell hardness. thanks, dave
   dave - Saturday, 03/02/02 13:45:00 GMT

George Chrysochoides:

I can't answer your question in a technical way, but but yes, percentage of copper determines color. Tombac is shiny white, being mostly zinc with a small percentage of copper. It was widely used in the late 18th - early 19th century to make buttons, as a cheap imitation of silver.

Red brass wire is indeed red. And both brass and bronze can be red, depending on copper content.
   Alan-L - Saturday, 03/02/02 16:20:04 GMT

bowdrill?? you mean captured lightning fire don't you?
As the divinly forged lightning bolts are more what we want.

lacking that, sparks from a well made steel struck on slag from ironmaking might be accepted.
Oh, the sparks must then be caught in charrcloth, ant that only acceptable if made from the hair of a unicorn woven to cloth by a 18 year old virgin (both things about as easy to find imho). LOL
   OErjan - Saturday, 03/02/02 16:45:56 GMT

This question is for anybody who has experience with pattern welding- When you have just a couple of layers-so they're still fairly thick- should you be able to see the layers when you grind away the black? in a couple books i read the photos showed a clear difference in the color of the raw steel, from high carbon to low carbon-should i be getting that effect if i am using, say, a car spring and a piece of mild steel??

   abe - Saturday, 03/02/02 19:44:19 GMT

Metal Colors Abe, You might see them depending in the hardness and resulting cut surface texture but in general you will not see the difference between two carbon steels without etching. Alloy steels, particularly those with high percentages of nickle, can be distinguised from carbon steel by color as the nickle makes the steel yellower or less blue. However, what you most often see in photographs is the texture difference of the resulting cut or grind on the dissimilar metals.

Depending on its age and make your car spring may be a plain carbon steel or low alloy that is hard to distinguish in color from mild steel.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/02/02 19:54:52 GMT

i just picked up a couple leaf springs from the local dump that are very rusty. would they make good knife steel?

   abe - Saturday, 03/02/02 22:52:16 GMT

Dear Guru's den,
Got a question for you.
I recently acquired an anvil for free!
Nice one at that...
What I was wondering was your guesstimate of its weight & worth.
Measures 34"L X 14" H x 5.5" W
It is in new/used condition. Some acetylene burns around the hardyhole and table. Fresh corners. (not a specialized anvil)

What I do know is that it is HEAVY!!!
And better condition than my 100#er.

Currently it is too big for my needs and I may sell it, but as I said it is in better condition than my previous one.

Thanks for your time.
Sean Pennell
   Sean - Sunday, 03/03/02 01:45:19 GMT

hey sean, where are you, roughly? because i might want to buy the anvil( if you decide to sell and i ca aafford it)

   abe - Sunday, 03/03/02 02:11:41 GMT

Hello, Jock: We are up here in Grand Junction, Colorado, where Bill is putting on a weekend Seminar for the Grand Valley Smiths bunch. Wayne Phifer is our host, and he says that he has been trying to get registered for 2 months, under the name of RMForge (which is the abreviated version of his forge name: Rocky Mountain Forge), and that he has been unable to get a password. Could you issue his a password? He's a nice guy and a great blacksmith who is a transplanted Texan, that moved here to Colorado few years back. He said that he used to come on as Wayne, but there are now some other guys who come on under that name, and that he would rather come on as RMForge. His e-mail address is RMForge at Frontier.net. I told him I would come on and ask you about it since I hadn't spoken to you in a while anyway. How are you doing these days? Hope all is going well for you.

Best regards,
   Sharon Epps - Sunday, 03/03/02 04:00:34 GMT

Pub Registrations: For about 2-3 weeks our form-mail system has been broken due to changes made in our mail server by our server host. During that period mail went to the great bit-bucket in the sky. . . All folks can do is re-register.

The other problem we have is bad e-mail addresses. Every week we get several registrations with bad e-mail addresses. Some are typos but a surprising number are just plain bogus. When return registration mail bounces the registration gets pulled. Since the only way we have of contacting people is via their e-mail addresses, if its wrong or in error then there is nothing we can do.

We also have people register under active but bogus accounts that they don't check. When our quarterly mail goes to these boxes and it bounces because the box is overfull we pull the registration.

In Waynes case he registered August 29, 2001. If he lost or forgot his password all he had to do is ask. Its on the way.

Hope you guys are having fun in the Rocky Mountain State.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 05:07:07 GMT

Anvil Weight: Sean, It is very difficult to determine by general dimensions. On large anvils an inch on either side of the waist can add 50 pounds. Some long horned American pattern anvils with very narrow waists can weigh less than a heavier pattern anvil that has smaller overall dimensions.

Your anvil could weigh anywhere from roughly 200 to 300 pounds. My large 300 pound Kohlswa is about the dimensions you give. But a friends 350# Hay-Budden is also close to those dimensions. It has a lot heavier waist than the typical Hay-Budden.

Good find. Bigger is better!
   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 05:16:49 GMT

Hello Guru's
I'm a 22 year old student living in WV. I am fascinated by all things medievel, and a friend and I want to construct a working medievil forge to make our own armour and weapons instead of buying them ( for sentimental reasons.) Can you tell me the names of authors or books that would guide us in building a forge and/or forging such items. Thanks

   Jamie Adkins - Sunday, 03/03/02 05:28:20 GMT

Rusty Leaf Springs: Abe, Generally old springs are pretty good steel. However, old leaf springs with lots of miles on them can have micro cracks from fatigue. But if you forge whatever you make from them all over then the probility is that they will fail while forging or during heat treatment. I've made wood working chisels from springs that had actually failed and broke before I recycled them. . .

The biggest problem may be the pits if they have heavy rusting. Sometimes rough surface texture doesn't disappear even with heavy forging.

Don't overlook coil springs. Small flat bar for the typical blade is easier to make from round spring stock than heavy flat stock. Its a bit of a pain straightening them but then you have some realy nice steel when you are done.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 05:29:37 GMT

Medievel Smithy: Jamie, this is not too difficult. Medievel shops were fairly primitive. Although basic tools haven't changed in thousands of years they WERE primitive and smaller than their modern counterparts.

However, ironworking was often a community project OR their was local industry. Primitive included big heavy water powered trip hammers and lots of cheap labor to weild sledge hammers when needed for heavy forging. Only with the advent of the modern power hammer has a general smithy been a "one man" operation. Remember that when you try doing things the hard way.

To be authentic a medievel forge will be blown by a pair of single action bellows. A rocker lever lifted one as the other falls. Lack of discharge check valves meant that they did not want to be tightly connected to the forge. Instead their nozzels blew into a hole in the side of the forge. The forge itself would be fueled with charcoal and be constructed of mud and wattle, brick or stone. See my story, A blacksmith of 1776, for a description.

Anvils were very small by modern standards. A rectangular lump of steel of 50 to 70 bounds would be a heavy anvil a thousand years ago. Primitive stakes would be common. Vises, non-existant. Hammers and tongs would be roughly the same as today. To be authentic you will have to make your own.

Also to be authentic you will have to forego all modern tool steels. Things like modern machine cut files, HSS twist drills and modern abrasives.

Files have been in existance since the bronze age. Early steel files were all hand cut and made from the best steel of the era. . which despite the myths, isn't saying much.

Chisels and scrapers were used more than files or grinding. When grinding was done it was with natural sandstone wheels. In the US this would be an old "Ohio Sandstone" wheel.

Your best bet is to use the best modern tools you can obtain and use traditional techniques if you want authenticity. See the articles on our Armoury page and look at Eric Thing's shop. Its the results that are important.

See our Getting Started article for recommended books.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 06:48:39 GMT

"Period", "Authentic", "Traditional". These are all recurring themes on these pages. They may be fine goals but you must be realistic or perhaps, pragmatic. To be authenticaly medieval means to shun saftey glasses, use hazardous substances and child labor. Mercury and lead where common substances in many shops. Workers were often missing an eye, fingers or toes. Then there is the general lack of science, poor nutrition and serious deseases such as diptheria and smallpox.

Then there are the things we take for granted that don't belong in a "period" shop. Cheap uniform metal in wire, bar, plate and sheet of various sizes. High quality synthetic abrasives in stones, wheels, belts and paper. Small tools like twist drills, files of every shape and size, factory made punches, chisels and saw blades. High temperature refractories, quality fluxes and anything made of alloy tool steels. And the most important is electric motors and small machines that replace cheap labor.

Yes, its possible to build an absolutely authentic bellows and forge, make many of your own tools that are quite authentic and primitive. For more recent periods you can collect antique tools to use. You can even wear rough sewn cloths and speak with peculiar accents.

Its a wonderful exercise and if you are REALY persistant you can produce very good quality work. Its also nice to know what you can do with less. But the learning curve can be longer and if you don't have infinite patience the work can suffer.

Many modern smiths take every technological advantage as smiths have always done. But they judiciously apply that technology to produce "traditional" work. Motor driven grinders and buffers replace days of painstaking labor as well as the expense of that labor. A small blower replaces the child labor that traditionaly would have pulled the bellows. Power hammers replace a team of skilled journeyman strikers with sledges and saves the wear and tear that destroyed many old anvils. Gas forges save time and are clean and efficient as well as keeping the neighbors happy. Modern smiths even use plasma and laser cut blanks for producing "traditional" work that is indistinguishable from work done centuries ago.

In the end, the work is made with fire, hammer and anvil. The question is, are you putting on an historical reenactment for a museum or producing work that satifies YOUR needs? Think about it.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 09:27:31 GMT

Authentic: The nice thing about working in this century is that YOU can decide how authentic you want to be. In my case i use power-tools and modern steel freely, but have made some "rules" for what I can accept in a replica ( No arc, hand-rubbed finish. MY choice). Jamie is right on when he says "for sentimental reasons", because, and I think it was the Guru saying it, " most people wouldn´t recognise authentic if it bit them".
   - Olle Andersson - Sunday, 03/03/02 10:58:13 GMT

For all of your imagintive answers, to the question of the tradional christianing of a new forge . Thanks . Have heard of one or two that actually might be workable .Being as how i'm finding it hard to find busty 18y.o virgins , let alone scantily clad ones.The main one involves makeing a set of fire tools the first time you light a fire in the new forge then crossing them in the forge . then drinking lots of beer .And Guru how about posting pawpaw's "ceremony" , all that imagination should't go to waste,thanks again
   wayne - Sunday, 03/03/02 11:29:35 GMT

   - wayne - Sunday, 03/03/02 11:51:48 GMT

I'm going to have to come down on the guru's side on this question, and rule against myself. Jock has a PG rating for this web site and would like to keep it that way. I fully agree, since there are frequently some of the younger smiths attending, both here and the Slack Tub Pub. While the ceremony I wrote for you is funny to males, females find it decidedly less funny. And it certainly is too adult for most of the younger folks to read. So it's best to keep it separate.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 03/03/02 13:54:40 GMT

I've been asked by my survivalism teacher to run a four to six hour course( in two hour increments) on basic knife making. i have made a few fairly good knives( nothing fancy) but i'm having trouble thinking up a good way to teach it. i don't really have the time or equipment to have nine people try it out for themselves, so i need a way to show them and give them an idea of the concept. i would rather start them with the basics of blacksmithing, but i don't have the time. so if anyone have any suggestions, i would be very greatfull.

   abe - Sunday, 03/03/02 18:22:27 GMT

Rating: Not only do we have a lot of young smiths access these pages we have elementary school children and their teachers. Children studying history often seek information about blacksmithing. And lately we have had numerous students asking relatively technical questions for reports about the methods of blacksmiths and metalworkers. I do not know what the youngest age is that our pages are accessed but you can probably assume that as soon as children learn to read they may be able to access these pages. That means 6 and 7 year olds. As Paw-paw pointed out we also have a large number of females in our company and they may not appreciate the same humor as you or I, even if it is written such that children do not understand it.

Although I enjoy some of the ribald smiths stories that go around they have no place on our public forums. It is estimated that some 60% of all Internet traffic goes to porn sites. That indicates that there is more than enough "adult" content on the web and that we don't need to add to it. More places need to take a stand to provide content that is intelegent as well as acceptable to all.

The Internet is not only a wide open world of information, it is open to almost everyone of every age in every country of the world. Every month this site is accessed by people from over 80 identifiable countries. I say "identifiable" because many ISP's globaly use ".com" or ".net" extensions that do not indicate where they are located.

I am not a prude and I hate "political correctness" but this IS a public place and children are invited here. It is easy to forget, but that is the truth.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 18:48:30 GMT

Basic knifemaking Abe, In this era a vast number of knives are made without forging. A blade is cut, ground and then slabs are riveted on. In a survival situation the last thing I would do if I needed a knife was to forge one.

Primitive knife makers often recycle old saw blades, cut them with a cold chisel, cold punch holes for rivets and shape the blade by grinding. Its hard work but it doesn't require fuel, tools or techniques that may not be available. In the worst situation any steel including mild steel is better than none and a wrapped handle is the most expediant.

In a true survival situation the "art" is finding and recognizing the right steel, then not messing is up so it has to be re-heat treated.

I am talking about the vast majority of working knives. Small skinners, filleting and carving knives. If you are talking about oversized "hunting" knives that are actually fighting knives akin to short swords then you are also talking about a fantasy "survival" situation where a fantasy shop and tools are also available. You are also dreaming that you lasted until AFTER the bullets ran out.

So, you have to decide if this is a reality survival situation or a fantasy survival situation. Is it a situation you were prepared for or did you just fall out of the sky into some wilderness? If it is a prepared situation then why the heck didn't you store some knives in your tool cache instead of an anvil? If you are in the wilderness then flint knapping might be a better skill to know than blacksmithing.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/03/02 19:30:12 GMT


Better back up your lower age level a little. Spent last evening with two of the fosters. Their youngest, 4 year old daughter spent most of the evening playing on the kids computers. She and her older sister are both learning computers skills.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 03/03/02 20:27:15 GMT


I have a Sullivan air hammer of about 100 pound. They were made by Sullivan Air Tool co.(now Sullair). I only have sales literature, but it does require 96(!) C.F.M. of air and thats when they're new. Great little hammer, always parks at the top of the stroke, has a fantastic single blow, good control and will run up to over 600 blows per minute! Stroke is a little short for general work (around 6 inches)including tooling and won't reciprocate if you have more than 3 inches of work or tools under it, but great for drawing and such.
   grant - Sunday, 03/03/02 21:15:14 GMT

Basic Knifemaking

Guru, my guess is Abe would be teaching basic knifemaking from the viewpoint of self-reliance in any situation, not just the purpose of how to make a knife in a survival situation.


Might it be possible for them all to get a section of railroad rail as an anvil, and have them construct a coal forge as shown on anvilfire from common parts?

This should be an affordable way to teach them all, and the ones that want to continue learning blacksmithing will have the means to do so after your class.

Hope it works out ok.
   - Taylor - Sunday, 03/03/02 21:24:12 GMT

sorry guys, i guess i wasn't clear. My teacher is really into having people make their own equipment- what i meant was just regular forging with the materials present, not making a knife in a survival situation( you should have a knife on you anyway when you go camping. i've got my own shop, which is alittle cramped, and the smithy i've been getting set up at my school( if it's ready by that time). i do know where there are a couple railroad ties( although i don't know if i have the equipment to cut them) but i hadn't thought of that- thanks taylor- what i was having trouble with was the actual teaching part.

   abe - Sunday, 03/03/02 23:15:52 GMT

I have done a few classes and I allways find it helpfull to plan out what I am going to do in each class.
write down every thing that you want to cover and be very detailed about it. I found that starting by going over all the tools the class would use that day and explaining the name and use for each tool is a good place to start. then go on to what you plan to get done in that class and in the rest of the classes later. also a going over any safty isues is a must.
keep a copy of your list in your pocket to referre to at all times that way if you get stuck you can go back and look. encorage the class to ask questions and give the best ancer you can.
also a sigestion I heard some were use a peice of thick wall PVC pipe (the gray kind) to teach hammer control it is cheeper than dirt and will let your class see were the hammer falls wrong. also helps to save the anvil from "missed strokes" and helps to save burns.
hope that helps
   MP - Monday, 03/04/02 00:07:01 GMT

thanks MP

   abe - Monday, 03/04/02 00:11:34 GMT

RE: Abe (offer to buy anvil)
I'm located near Springfield MO.
As far as the cost, I got it for free, (was headed for the scrap yard, and too much trouble for them to move.)
All I need is to recover the cost of my ruptured
disc from moving the blasted thing!!! :)

But... I am not quite ready to sell. I'll be thinking it over and let you know... or post it on the auction site.

   Sean - Monday, 03/04/02 01:11:42 GMT

Abe: Check out Wayne Goddard's "The Wonder of Knifemaking" (see review on the Anvilfire "Books" page) or, better yet, his "$50 Knife Shop" book. (Still trying to get a copy for review.) He has a good, basic make-do attitude that I find refreshing.

Jamie: There are some pictures of a Viking style forge in some of the past Anvilfire News pages. Trust me, doing this in a medieval fashion requires a large labor pool. The medieval period was materials poor and labor rich, where our society is materials rich and labor is dearly bought ($$$). That said, there is value to using the original setups for PART of your work. Then, after a bit, you learn that you can drill 20+ rivet holes with an electric drill and modern bits in the time it takes you to drill one hole with a bow drill and a spade bit! So, unless you have that large labor pool to take that amount of man-hours, you may never get a project done. The learning experience is wonderful, but as a way to accomplish a goal, it CAN be a dead end. Sort of like digging a tunnel with a spoon, because that's the way the P.O.W.s used to do it. If the object is to get a feeling for the travails and persistence of a P.O.W., a couple of hours will suffice, but if the object is to dig a tunnel... ;-)

I'm short on time tonight, but I'll post some more on the subject tomorrow.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/04/02 02:22:31 GMT

Hello this is my first time rebuilding a moter,and no experiance with chemicals.Can i dip my 350 cast iron small block in muriatic acid without hurting the piston walls? Thank you for your time.
   steve - Monday, 03/04/02 05:58:29 GMT

Further Notes on Medieval Blacksmithing:

I have several pages on blacksmithing in the Viking age posted and hosted at: http://people.ne.mediaone.net/meadmaker/Viking1.htm

The pictures of the Viking style portable forge are at the Anvilfire News, Volume 10, page 11. Please note that this is based on extrapolation rather than hard physical evidence. The model that I use has somewhat larger bellows, and seems to work well enough, but welds are somewhat touch-and-go. (Actually most of my welds are somewhat touch-and-go. ;-)

Below are four books, two for the medieval period and two from the Renaissance. The latter books are included because many of the techniques don't change that much, and because they illuminate the processes and the mindset of the people at this stage of technology. All are presently in print, available at your library, or obtainable by an inter-library loan. I recommend them for any standing personal library for historic blacksmithing.

"On Diverse Arts" by Theophilus, (ca. 1100) © 1963,1979 Cyril Stanley Smith; Dover Publications, NY; LoC 78-74298, ISBN 0-486-23784-2

"The Mastermyr Find; A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland" by Greta Arwidsson and Gosta Berg © 1983; © 1999, Larson Publishing Company, Lampoc, CA; ISBN 0-9650755-1-6.

"The Pirotechnia of Vannoccio Biringuccio" ca. 1540; translated and edited by Cyril Stanley Smith and Martha Teach Gnudi; ISBN 0-486-26134-4.

"De Re Metallica" by Agricola (1555); Translated by Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover; 1950, Dover edition; LoC A51-8994

I hope this information is of use to you.

Sunny and windy on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/04/02 13:35:49 GMT

I'm not an expert engine rebuilder, but I have a friend who is. He does it for a living.
Forget about the muratic acid dip. You'll do more harm than good. Believe it or not, the best cleaning agent you will find will be plain old water delivered through a high pressure sprayer. Preferably one with a gasoline engine that will put out 2,000 lbs. pressure. If you don't have access to one check out the local equipment rental store. They rent by the day and it shouldn't run over $35.00.
Tear the engine down, make sure you mark all the rod caps as to cylinder number. Remove crank, cam, lifters, oil pump and strip it down to the bare block. Place the block and heads on a clean surface; concrete, wooden pallets, anything to keep it off the ground or out of the gravels. Roll them over several times as you clean. Blow out all oil and water ports. Any real tough grese can be scraped and blasted.
When done, let water drain off and go over the whole thing with an air hose. Blow out all passages and wipe the cyliders down with a dry cloth. Once dry, go over any machined surface with an oily rag. Put on a good coat. Inspect the cylinders and heads for cracks. Then start the rebuild. I would suggest that you have new cam bearings installed and also put in a new oil pump. Also pickup a manuel for the model year. Torque specs can vary for the same engine from one year to the next. Good luck.
   Larry - Monday, 03/04/02 15:48:10 GMT

Engine Rebuild I never heard of using muratic acid but it is common to "hot tank" engines in a caustic solution. However, this is a production expediant and can do some damage. The one thing it does, if core plugs (freze plugs) are the slightest bit rusty it disolves them. You are best off to remove them to start then install replacements using a sealer like Aviation Form-a-gasket.

The metal of engine blocks are often sealed with a sealer at the factory and chemical cleaning may remove that unseen sealer. Dipping won't hurt the piston walls (you SHOULD be honing them after) but most chemicals are hard on those cam bearings that you may not be replacing.

I have never had trouble with block rebuilds but the problems come with old rusted manifold studs and external parts. Watch out for exhaust cross passages in the intake manifold. They often fill with carbon to the point of clogging up. This results in automatic chokes that are slow to open and long engine warm ups.

Engine dependability comes from new or carefully serviced parts like starter, alternator, fuel pump, water pump, carb., belts and mounts. Oil filter units often have a bypass valve that when the spring wears you end up with low or fluctuating oil pressure. Most "rebuilt" starter and alternator units are just old units that have been repaired NOT rebuilt and are often not a good deal. You are better off with old parts or junk yard parts than most rebuilds.
   - guru - Monday, 03/04/02 16:22:39 GMT

Jamie; there is an armour-in in Parkersburg WV the second weekend in May. GW&TCDR I'll be bringing a couple of forges (propane, coal/charcoal & Bellows) and would be pleased to do a bit of teaching if you could attend.

there is a website on it

Thomas Powers
   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/04/02 16:24:09 GMT

I found two horseshoes in a tree that had to be at least 100 years old. they're turned up sharp at the ends. Can you tell me where I can look up pictures to compare and find out how old they are and if they're like, army issue or something?
   Earl - Monday, 03/04/02 16:54:24 GMT


I have seen people refer to using brazing rod for pins in knives and such. I would like to try this, but all of the rods I have seen have been rectangular in cross section, or coated. Am I looking in the wrong place, or should I just stripp the flux coating off somehow?

Second question: I know you shouldn't heat galvinized meatl due to the fumes, but is it safe to drill? How about putting hot tools or steel down onto a sheet?

-Jim (not wanting heavy metal issues)
   - Jim - Monday, 03/04/02 19:42:09 GMT

Jock, et all.
Just finished building Long John Ferguson, my fifth forge. The fire box is a 3/8 inch half pipe about 3 feet long, 10 inches wide. The blast is delivered through a row of eight, 1/2 inch holes by the manifold of an old Ferguson tractor bolted on the underbelly of the half pipe. The source of the blast is a large Champion blower that is turned by a gear reduced electric motor, variable speed provided by pressure added or released to the pivoting motor mount plate and the intentional slip of the drive pulley. An eloquent, narrow, intense 24" long flame ran through the middle of the 24 x 36 inch bed of coal. I was alone when I lit that fire using wood chips and coke from the indoor forge. Later, my wife came out and marvelled at this simple yet satisfing accomplishment. As I walked back to the house later that night, Long John Fergusion being christened by the soft rain of a wet Virginia night, I thanked God for His blessing and looking back, saw the half pipe glowing with a warm orange heat. That's the best way I know to "christian" a forge, Stefan, and I've built a few.
   L.Sundstrom - Monday, 03/04/02 19:59:48 GMT

Brazing Rod: Jim, You didn't say where you were located but in the US all the brazing rod I've seen was round. Most welding suppliers have it both plain and coated. 1/8, 3/16 and 1/4" are commonly stocked and 3/8" is made but you have to special order it in most cases. I purchase 1/8" coated for brazing and uncoated in all sizes for decorative work.

You can also use brake lining rivets for attaching slabs but they are difficult to find.

Zinc plate (Galvanizing): burning it is only a problem if done quantity and you inhale the fumes. On the hot tool issue it would take a very hot large tool to vaporize the galvanizing. The folks that have the worst problem with zinc is brass casters. It is common to have zinc flare off the surface of molten brass. Fluxing and covering the surface of the melt helps but it still occurs.
   - guru - Monday, 03/04/02 20:40:01 GMT

Hi Guru,
I am new to blacksmithing and an impressed with the amount of information that you provide. I have come across a "Champion Blower & Forge - pa 13 Jan 1920" which appears to be in good working order. I was looking for some information(or where to go looking) on it as far as servicing/maintaining it and any thing else etc. What would one of these be worth in the USA given its age etc. Thanking you in advance.

cheers from James M down under in Aussie Land.
   james m - Monday, 03/04/02 21:46:48 GMT

Champion James, These were one of the big manufacturers of blacksmithing equipment for many years. They are best known for their forges and drills but also made anvil tools, tongs and every other thing you could think of except anvils. They continued in the machinery business but have left the blacksmith line behind long ago.

I THINK, there are reprints of their old catalogs available from Centaur Forge and Norm larson. About the only thing you do is keep the blower gearbox filled with oil. They leak constantly so you don't want to overfill (or fully fill) them but they NEED oil. 30 or 40 weight will do.

In the U.S. the price for forges varies a lot and there were many models. Between $300 and $500 USD is common. If they were still made, new they would be more expensive. A comprable fabricated forge with electric blower sells for around $800 USD here.

   - guru - Monday, 03/04/02 22:12:15 GMT

I'm what you'd call a newcomer, and i'm young. i need to know how could i make an easy-to-make forge. Also what other tools do i need other than an anvil a ball peen hammer and a bench vise. Thanks in advance
   mark - Monday, 03/04/02 22:39:22 GMT

mark get a crosspein hammer and some pliers. also get some books(new edge of the anvil, art of blacksmithing, etc.) they'll help you decide what to make, what you need and give you ideas for starting off
   abe - Monday, 03/04/02 23:34:36 GMT

SEE GETTING STARTED and explore the links. Click on the picture of my first forge. Check the plans page for brake drum forge details.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/05/02 00:05:47 GMT


In addition to Abe's suggestion, please add a good pair of safety goggles, leather apron, leather boots, and leather gloves.

Be safe! Hope it works out well for you.
   - Taylor - Tuesday, 03/05/02 00:07:13 GMT

In response to the advice given on the engine rebuild project for steve: Just thought there should be a little more attention to bore size of the cylinders. They should be checked for scoring,pits and properly measured to see if they are too far undersized etc. May need to be bored over and need new pistons to accomidate this. Sincerely, Scott
   wolfsmithy - Tuesday, 03/05/02 00:34:32 GMT

Earl. Can you send a picture of the horseshoes? If the calks are sharp and wedge shaped, the shoes were used in snow or rough going.

Abe. You can cut railroad ties with an axe. Think about it.
Send you students to my smithing school. They'll think they're in boot camp. When they get done, they will be Survivors. Forge weld the first day. Ornamental iron and lap weld the second day, etc., etc.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/05/02 01:39:14 GMT


I would assume Abe meant to say railroad rail. The railroad ties are made of wood. The wood might make a good anvil base however.

But a "gas axe" as the british put it would cut through a railroad rail in no time at all.

Isn't forge welding on the first day a bit extreme to start out with? Just a question, no offense to your teaching style.
   - Taylor - Tuesday, 03/05/02 02:27:44 GMT


Most smiths agree that forge welding is the most difficult of the basic procedures. Learn that first, and everything else is easy. Frank's method works, and works well.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Tuesday, 03/05/02 05:28:00 GMT

Welding First One of the reason's Frank's method works is that when you go to a school you have good fuel, a proper forge, tools and someone to quickly point out what you are doing wrong.

Many of us starting out didn't have proper forges and may have taken years to recognize fuel problems. KNOWING what works makes a huge difference. It doesn't work like Boggart in the African Queen heating unforge-weldable metal in an open wood fire pounding on a rock. . . . Primitive is one thing but there ARE impossible situations.

Fuel is often key to sucess. The better the coal the easier the weld. I have seen Steve Kayne forge weld in a green coal fire from about two handfulls of coal in a bare firepot. . . But knowing what works and what doesn't is the important part of learning forge welding.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/05/02 13:40:12 GMT

Hello,my name is dave i've been a boilermaker/welder for the last 23 yrs.extensive pressure vessel,boiler,nuclear,pipe,light and heavywall,and almost everything else. I was wondering if you might know the procedure for welding 1/2" plate of 500 brinnel hardness to itself and mild steel if different? thankyou, Dave
   Dave - Tuesday, 03/05/02 14:07:34 GMT

Taylor. Ref: "forge welding extreme". I run short courses. We don't have time to "frog around". Been doing it for years. But regarding Abe's response...I didn't intend for the subject to get sidetracked from knife making. At our school, we work on toolsmithing during the second week. We can hog out a knife and "polish" it if need be, but don't often have the time to fit handles.

"Don't knock success; analyze it".
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/05/02 14:35:43 GMT

Forge-welding: Being self-taught it took me years to forgeweld properly. Today I can teach people to do their first weld in the time it takes to build a fire and get the steel hot.
Damn, where where all you people when I needed you!
   - Olle Andersson - Tuesday, 03/05/02 15:55:20 GMT

Frank, Forge welding a barshoe at horseshoeing school was a snap. Welding in my own shop thirty years later took about a year to learn. Too much information messed me up.

Jock, Your comment about Steve Kayne brings up a question. A friend said that he heard Mr. Kayne say that he would never teach anyone to weld using flux. We were discussing this over the forge, each of use heating some iron to play around with. Just as we went to pull our irons out of the fire we notice that they were stuck together. No flux, and I haven't used any since.
Is it true tht Mr. Kayne doesn't believe in fluxing or was my friend making it up?

   L.Sundstrom - Tuesday, 03/05/02 16:56:24 GMT

re: most difficult proceedure.

By the way, I think making your own dies and sucessfully stamping a design element in a piece of round stock is the hardest thing blacksmiths do. I made a simple die for putting a small ball into a piece of round stock. I end up with a screwball every time. Has anyone else had this problem and found a cure? I spent hours finishing the dies and making sure all the face edges of the dies were "soft".
   L.Sundstrom - Tuesday, 03/05/02 17:08:27 GMT

Dave. the hardness does not necessarily indicate the alloy and it's the alloy info you need to decide on a process, (needed pre-heat temp, post heat temp, heat treat afterwards, etc) Now if you can cough up the alloy the *real* weldors can probably make some good suggestions; or you might check out the net newsgroup sci.eng.welding (IIRC).

Thomas better weldor with the forge than with the stick
   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/05/02 17:34:46 GMT

Howdy Jock...Any experience with "L" brand ForgeCoke. As before, I'm shopping around for general blacksmithing coal/coke. Any input would be appreciated...

   Gator - Tuesday, 03/05/02 17:38:13 GMT

Kayne and Flux You would have to ask him yourself but I know he sells a variety of fluxes for those that do.

As to "accidental" welds, it happens fairly often in all types of forges. Generaly it happens when the forge is idle or turned down low after it has been used hard and is quite how. This results in a good rich or low oxidizing atmosphere as well as plenty of heat. I've seen this in both coal and gas forges. Its a real hazzard in gas forges as people tend to stack billets in them. You take a short break and you end up with a welded mess. . .

Most failed welds are from burning the stock with too much air. Some folks weld with flux, others without. However, there are many alloys that are near imposible to weld without flux.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/05/02 17:41:59 GMT

ripntear - your Pub registration mail bounced
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/05/02 19:34:49 GMT

Olle. I was around, unless you're an older fossil than I.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/05/02 19:55:49 GMT


I am during Mettalurgy/Blacksmithing/Ironworking ( Methinks there all mostly the same, but anyway.. ) for my Jr. Project, and I'm in depserate need of information and or examples of any sort relating to my topic. I've always found the working of metals interesting, ever since I became enamored with the medieval ages and all the armoury and weaponry and such - and I figured, hey, why not write a nine page paper on it? Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated! :] Please get back to me ASAP through the e-mail address listed.

Thank you for your time,

S. A.
   Shanna A. - Tuesday, 03/05/02 20:39:03 GMT

forge welding is easy depending on how you do it- weld ing a piece to itself is a cinch, but welding two peices together often makes me give up

   abe - Tuesday, 03/05/02 21:26:28 GMT

L.Sundstrom: Kayne's fluxless welds, he told me the same thing. Said he uses mud daubber nest mud sometimes too. Most of the time no flux at all. He's been at it a while and that was the way he was taught. In Ashville at the ABANA conference I watched the English fellow building the gate project do all his welds w/no flux. His assistant said that he could'nt personaly forge weld without using flux. I think it takes ALOT of experience to be able to weld, fluxless.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 03/05/02 21:47:13 GMT

Shanna; I just spent about 1/2 an hour listing books on early, medieval, renaissance, enlightenment, victorian iron working/metallurgy/smithing and the address bounced, can you send me an e-mail to reply to.

   Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/05/02 21:50:11 GMT

I took a coppersmithing class and want to find copper to make weathervanes and tools also. CAn you help me, please?
   Patt - Tuesday, 03/05/02 22:26:35 GMT

Copper: Patt, You can order copper in various thicknesses and sizes from our On-line Metals store. I don't recommend copper for tools, its too soft. Do you want tools or to make your own? Our advertisers, Centaur Forge and Kayne and son sell a variety of anvils, stakes and hammers.

If you want to make your own tools we have articles on our iForge page that apply to making your own stakes and hammers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/05/02 22:48:14 GMT

Saw a smith two weekends ago who welded fluxless, as well as in a dirty fire and all that. I think the real trick is understanding what it is you are doing and the basic principles involved. I mean teh physics involved.... Then doing it.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 03/06/02 00:52:22 GMT

Thank you all, I hope it wasn't to much trouble.....Steve
   steve - Wednesday, 03/06/02 05:13:25 GMT

I keep doing the best I can on the Spanish translations of smithing tools and processes. I am certain there is a shop vernacular which can be different from dictionary Spanish and museum curatorial interpretations. For example, I have a beautiful book from the Museum of Teruel, Spain. There are photos of a number of smithing tools with captions. One photo shows six top half-round swages of different diameters. The caption calls them, "martillos de alisar de media cana", roughly translated as, "hammers for smoothing, of half round concave section". Well, if I were in a Spanish shop, I doubt seriously if I would hear a journeyman fill his mouth with something that long. I'm fairly certain that in shop talk, a swage is an "estampa" (la), but I've more research to do.

The growing international glossary can be found under our FAQs section.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/06/02 05:17:40 GMT

Help Please, plan to visit the east coast next week and would like to visit the Yellin Museum/Workshop but can find
no info (directions/hours/address), Can anyone help. Also plan to visit the National Cathedral, and would be glad to hear of any other sights in the area of Philly/DC/Richmond (will visit Willimsburg and Jamestown of course) Thanks in advance
   - Tim - Wednesday, 03/06/02 05:40:12 GMT

Tim: The Yellin collection closed down some years ago. When I was up in Philadelphia around '92 or '93, I gave them a call and talked to Sam's daughter-in-law, who explained that they were boxing everything up. She did send me to some nice government, bank and church sites in Philadelphia.
Some of it goes on display from time-to-time, and I did get some good shots when they had an exhibit at the National Cathedral a couple of years back. Jack Andrews (of The New Edge of the Anvil, etc.) probably keeps the closest tabs on the collection, so maybe you can hunt him down. I'll see if I can pull his book on Yellin tonight.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/06/02 13:55:26 GMT

Tim, In the olden days when knights were bold, we visited the National Cathedral to see ironwork, but needed to make an appointment a few days early with someone called, "The Clerk of the Works". The Cathedral may be e-mailed at tours at cathedral.org. Their site is: http://www.cathedral.org/cathedral/index.shtml. If you get in, take a flashlight, as some of the Yellin work is in the subterranean darkness.

I believe Yellin's old Arch Street studio in Philadelphia is closed. His granddaughter, Claire Yellin, still contracts for work, but farms out the execution of the work to trusted, qualified craftsmen of her acquaintance.

If I were near Philadelphia, I would go to Doylestown to see the Henry Mercer tool museum. It'll blow your hair back.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/06/02 13:58:19 GMT

Thanks Bruce and Frank, I am sorta out of the loop on the Yellin info, appreciate the update. Frank, Funny, but I will be staying in Doyestown for 3 nights...very germain, I will get my hair blown back for sure. TKS to all. Tim
   - tim - Wednesday, 03/06/02 14:51:12 GMT

PS More suggestions welcome
   - tim - Wednesday, 03/06/02 14:51:39 GMT

Like anvils, Iron is where you find it. In Petersburg Virginia there is much old ironwork if you know where to look. Restored High Street has old and new ironwork and there are many intresting gates and fences along Sycamore on the South side of downtown.

The Washington National Cathedral is open to public tours but if you are interested in the ironwork let them know. CVBG organized a group tour and the Cathedral provided a docent to guide us as well as providing a brochure to identify the various iron work. Yes, lighting is a problem at the Cathedral. Flash works sometimes but the shadows often interfer with the shape of the iron and my digital camera did miserably. I have a collection of photos taken there at various times that need to be processed digitaly and put into an on-line tour. . . Probably need to make another trip to DC.

The Yellin collection was not just boxed up but much of it was sold off. When the "collection" is shown many pieces are shipped from various private collectors.

Downtown Charleston, SC and Savanah, GA have lots of iron work. Some good, much so-so. But that is typical anywhere you go.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/06/02 15:21:52 GMT

Our International Glossary Project is progressing nicely but we need more volunteers. Currently we need someone to provide Italian translations and we are also supporting Portuguse and Holländisch on a second table.

We need people that are familiar with metalworking terms in various languages. Please, no machine translations (such as Bablefish). Common shop terms are preferable. More than one person per language is acceptable. No one person is familiar with all terms. As Frank noted, he is sure there are better terms than he is using. If you know of a regional difference please let us know and we will note it with a footnote.

Translations can be provided via e-mail as word pairs, preferably English to your language but if you are familiar with two other languages better (such as French-Portuguse) then we will work with that.

Translations can also be provided by editing the glossary table as HTML in an editor if you are comfortable with that method. E-mail the edited file to me as an attachment.

You may also send hard copy to me at:

4714 Granite Trail
Boonville, NC 27011

If you see an error (we are not proffesional linguists) please send us a note. New words that you think should be on the list are welcome but we have many blanks that need to be filled.

We will list those adding to the project as a contributor. Please let me know if you do not want to be listed.

If your language is not listed AND you would like to contribute, please let us know. We will setup additional pages if necessary.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/06/02 17:40:58 GMT

In reference to Yellin. At the website-www.samuelyellin.com
there is contact information. They might provide information.
   Brian C - Wednesday, 03/06/02 18:25:12 GMT

Tim, Frank is on the "money honey" as to the Mercer Museum http://www.tiles.org/pages/mptw/mercer.htm I was driving by yesterday after an install and stopped in to the tile works just to look around. Its been awhile since I've been in to take a peek. There are two other places to go while you are in town. Fonthill, Mr. Mercers home (reservation) and the tile works (still a working business, tours every 1/2 hour) which are in walking distance from each other. You'll have to drive from the museum, not far,5 min.
Mercer built the structures completely from concrete. Floors, walls, ceilings, even the roof! A neat trick he used was to erect the walls, then build a platform of wood at the beginning ceiling height. He would then mound dirt on the platform in the shape of the finished ceiling, lay his tile in the dirt face down, then pour the concrete to make the structure. After the concrete set he would knock out the platform and bingo!- vaulted ceiling. The only wood is doors and openable windows. Some of the big windows are concrete too. Really something to see. If one is within 100 miles its worth the trip. Funny what you take for granted in your own back yard.
Now I have a question: I need to make a table top that will seat 14 people. I need a design standard reference. Anybody know of such a critter?
   - Pete-Raven - Wednesday, 03/06/02 18:44:22 GMT

fORGE welding:
The key to forge welding is knowing that you can forge weld.
You know you have done it, can do it and will do it. I tried to learn it by reading. I'd put the rods in the reducing part of the fire, let it heat up nice and easy,
waited for every thing to look just right, hit it just right and failed. I'd spend time making the perfect fire, the little cave, just the right amount of coke and fail again.
Finally, when I was good and frustrated, I would ram the irons down into the wrong part of the fire, try to burn 'em up, bring them out and bingo...welded.
Next, I ordered Bob Patrick's Video on forge welding and noticed that it didn't take him long at all to reach welding heat. In fact his fire looked rather lively. So I installed a better fan, heated my irons up faster and learned to see the zone.
Here's my point, Get someone to SHOW you, it can save you hours of agony. Personally, I think the key is heat, in fact more specifically, white heat and the key to that is the blast. But that may just be my way of saying with the wrong words what happens when the right things are taking place. But when someone shows you, whether or not you understand the how, you see the way.
When you learn it, Pass it on,
   L.Sundstrom - Wednesday, 03/06/02 18:54:24 GMT

we have a cannon built in the early 1800's we need the nails to rebuild it. they are 2 1/4 inch in length and 1/4 inch sqaure shank under head. the head is about 5/8 inch across. Do you know of any manufacture were I can purchase them. In the West Point Military Academy New York Area. Thank you
   akima - Wednesday, 03/06/02 19:10:34 GMT

Nails Akima, Almost any of the smiths that are regulars here can provide hand made nails of the type you want. I'm sure you will get volunteers.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/06/02 20:02:11 GMT

Akima; if you are trying for a high level of authenticity in your re-build the nails will need to be made from real wrought iron and not modern mild steel. If you discuss this with the smith it makes a difference in the quote!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/06/02 21:34:44 GMT

Re: Forge Welding

Ok, now I'm really confused.

I am able to read fast and retain the knowledge, and have been trying to read everything on blacksmithing I could, both on anvilfire and text books.

Now I've got recommendations for forge welding that don't match.

Use flux. Don't use flux. Heat it slow. Heat it fast.

Exactly which is the right way to forge weld?

   - Taylor - Wednesday, 03/06/02 23:26:50 GMT

The correct way to forge weld is the way that works.
The point that I was triing to make is that when someone writes that you don' want too much blast, your concept of not too much may not be the same as his and you may spend weeks messing up because you are doing it the way you think he meant. One guy wrote don't use too much flux. Saw a fellow pour it on thick. Some say you got to wire brush off the scale, some say it helps to leave it on. Anyone who knows how to forge weld could teach you to forge weld but if they wrote out instructions you would more then likely overemphisize one thing or another. Best thing for you to do is find a real live teacher. Next best thing is to rent the Bob Patrick video. Third best thing is to correspond with one person and deregard all other voices. Do exactly what they tell you to do. When something doesn't work tell him what you did and follow his advice on fixing it. Fourth best thing is to get a book and worst idea of all is to try to follow the advice of each one of us who writes to this site. Any of us could teach you but ALL of us can't.

   L.Sundstrom - Thursday, 03/07/02 00:04:24 GMT

taylor- sundrom's right. i like to heat it up fast, wire brush and use lot's of flux, but only because that's how i was taught- i've seen other people swear by other ways, so i guess they're all good.( i think using at least some flux helps in the beginning)

   abe - Thursday, 03/07/02 00:16:21 GMT

CVBG Meeting: Please note, the next CVBG meeting at Greenwood Ironworks, is Saturday the 9th, not Friday the 8th as published on CVBG's Forging Times.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 00:48:23 GMT

Forge welding tip with coke. Make a peep hole through the coke bed so you can just get a glimpse of the steel heating.
When the steel turns the same color as THE HEART OF THE FIRE, it will DISAPPEAR from view (unless you move it). You have just entered a light (non-sparking) welding heat. Give it a few more seconds of blast, depending on how big the stock is, bring it (them) out, shake your gradoo (surface krud), place on anvil, hit. If you hit too hard, the little piece will go squirting across the room. Etc., etc. There is much more to it.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/07/02 01:00:57 GMT

Forge Welding Instruction Differences: The problem is that every forge is slightly different. In a good deep forge with good coal you may not need hardly any blast. In another forge you may need significant blast to get hot enough. With poor coal you may never get there at all. Some gas forges don't get hot enough and others can be too oxidizing. Oil forges are said to be one of the best for forge welding but I've never had a chance to try one.

You can weld wrought iron, low carbon and mild steel and plain carbon steels without flux. Wrought is often self fluxing. But alloy steels are more difficult and generaly need to be fluxed. However, some smiths use flux for all welding and others use none or very little.

Those that say they don't use flux and then use clay or sand are using flux. Clay from mud-dauber nests is popular.

You can get excellent fluxless welds when the atmosphere in your forge is right and little air gets to the iron. In this case you can melt the surface of the iron and pieces stick quite well. However, if you have an oxidizing fire you may not be able to weld with or without flux.

People that have trouble welding with flux are generaly boiling off the flux. This leaves a residue that is worse than common scale.

Once you KNOW what to look for you can weld in various situations. But until then it is tricky. The tendancy is to get too excited and hit the work too hard. But given that advice a friend was just gently tap tap taping the joint. . . You have to hit it hard enough to squeeze out the dross and to close the joint but not so hard you blow out the liquid surface and curl up the edges. It takes the right "touch" and that varies with the size of the work.
With practice all these things come together and forge welding becomes a task, not a challange. HOWEVER, even the best will admit to missing a weld now and then.

Lots of folks (including some demonstrators) are nuts about wire brushing but most folks that forge weld a lot laugh at this waste of time and effort.

See our iForge demo on forge welding, it has generally accepted instructions.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 01:13:56 GMT

What would be the right thickness of copper or brass to use for ladles and dippers? Both in gauge and inches.
   Brian C - Thursday, 03/07/02 02:08:18 GMT

Ok, I am fairly new to the craft of smithing and metalworking but at the advice of a few older smiths I got into welding to learn a bit about metals. I am almost done with my first welding class (which has covered a lot of stick welding, a bit of gas welding and also some mig). I am already signed up for my second welding class (which will be a lot more mig, tig and brazing) and I need a project for both classes. I have an old anvil that is in pretty bad shape (knicks, cracks and old crusted-on paint) so I was thinking of taking it in to the welding class and fixing it up as a project. Resources are just short of plentiful and the knowledge base of the instructors is good so I think I can pull it off and come out of there with a decently repaired working anvil. My problem is I don't know how to do it. I was thinking of using arc welding with a 7018 rod to patch the larger knicks since it lays down a lot of metal and fills well. Then I could grind it flat for a nice finish. I was also thinking of welding a new top plate on it since the one on there is starting to lift off on one corner. Is this the way to go about patching and resurfacing the anvil or is there a better way? Will this do anything adverse to the anvil's "spring?" Would the heat from the arc damage the anvils properties in any way? Any help is greatly appreciated!!
   Tim - Thursday, 03/07/02 03:27:04 GMT

Thickness: Brian, Brass and copper are sold by thickness OR weight per square foot of iron the equivalent thickness. This is not always the same as "guage". It is recommended to specify and purchase sheet stock by thickness in inches or millimeters. Thickness also needs to be proportional to size.

I've used .032" (20 ga) brass shim stock for small candle cups but it is a little light. But if raised to near hemispherical for a small dipper it is an excellent weight.
.040" (18 ga or 1mm) is a good thickness for small ladles and .050" (16 ga or 1.27mm) is heavy enough for many things.

One thing to remember about brass and copper is that they are heavier than steel and not nearly as stiff. Even when work hardened they are relatively soft.

Try one of the sample packs from our On-line store. The range is right for testing and you are not out much.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 03:35:36 GMT

Anvil Repair: Tim, It sounds like it may be an OK anvil as-is. What kind is it? There are at least two brands that have a tool steel face plate welded to a cast iron face in the casting process. The joint cannot be repaired and any welding heat may make things worse.

All good anvils have a tool steel face. It can be welded but this should be kept at a minimum. The heat will leave soft places in the face and re-heat treating is a huge job.

Welding on a new face is generally not an option. The original face was forge welded on if the anvil if it is not cast. The forge weld produces a 100% joint under the face as does the patent cast joint. Welding around the edges does not produce the same results.

Ask your instructors how they would repair one hundred pound 1075 tool steel die that is hardened to 60 Rockwell C. And find out what kind of anvil you have first.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 04:26:02 GMT

Ok, I am getting spring fever and want to be outside working my forge so the questions are flowing (I am not a homeowner and therefore forge outside when weather permits). So anyway, here's my next question. If I toss all my stuff into the back of my truck and go set up in the middle of an adandoned parking lot what can I use to blast the forge? I have heard suggestions running the gamut from a hand-crank or foot pedal-style blowers to a motorized fan. The problem is power. I cant really hook up a fan motor to my truck and then run it outta gas. I had a shop-vac blowing the forge but then again there is the truck outta gas issue. What "me-powered" system of delivering air to the fire is available for about $20.00 in materials?
   - Tim - Thursday, 03/07/02 04:27:04 GMT

Flux-Less welds. Our group started a flux-less weld club within the club. The first time, smiths that you thought would have problems, didn't and some experienced old-timers couldn't do it. When everything is perfect it will weld. In Bob Patricks welding class the first thing you do is a flux less weld.
   Dave Wells - Thursday, 03/07/02 04:43:55 GMT

Me-Powered: Tim, A bellows is relatively easy to build. 100% human powered. Farriers run little 12VDC blowers for an hour or more at a time off thier truck battery. If you are worried about running your truck battery dead put in a second with a disconect. But if you have a good HD battery you should be able to run a little blower 3-4 hours or more.

Materials costs are generaly proportional to your scrounging skills.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 05:08:55 GMT

I second Guru's advice on the DC power. I have a brake drum forge that I built and run it off of DC. The fan and motor unit were scavenged out of a Ford pickup. The shroud was made from a cutdown coffee can and the power source is a questionable 12 volt battery I took off the car because it was getting a little weak. I have a small battery charger that I hook up every once in a while, but I have had no problem with power. I can run the forge and a car radio I have hooked up in the shop for 6-8 hours at a time without recharge.
You can run the wiring straight and have full blast or tear into the heating system and scrounge out the resistance coils and three speed switch and wire it up for variable speed. Either way there is not much drain on a good battery. Perhaps a separate battery just for forging than can be recharged at home. A deep cycle marine battery would be ideal.
   Larry - Thursday, 03/07/02 13:05:18 GMT

Mud-Dauber Nests for Flux:

An interesting thought, the efficiency of these for flux might be factor of the mud the mud-dauber selected. Clay, quartze, organic matter; all could vary according to where the dauber daubed. It seems to me that they don't have a "geologic" based distribution, and so thay are probably more interested in the consistency and physical properties of the mud than in the content. (Sort of like ASTM A-36 steel!)

So a mud-dauber nest with a high organic content might be worse than no flux at all! I'm sticking with 90% borax, 10% boric acid, and, upon occasion, some clean quartze sand for the second go-round. (Maybe I'll try some "clean welds" later, when I'm not getting ready for Jamestown.)

Warm, sunny and a gentle breeze on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/07/02 14:44:57 GMT

Mud Daubers: The nests themselves are usualy relatively fine clay. The wasps avoid sand and grit carefully balling up clay along a creek bank, spring or mud hole. They in fact, purify the clay by leaving out the sand.

The little organic matter in the nests is inconsequential being the dried out remains of the small spiders that are fed to the wasp larva and the larva shells.

It is said but potters that where you find mub-daubers nests there is good clay. But I think this is just wishful thinking. Most of our local nests are made of red clay that is suitable for brickmaking but not very good for pottery. Ocassionaly you see nests made of white (grey) clay that is from a read clay bank and IS suitable for ceramics.

Ceramic clay MAY make a reasonable flux. I've fired clay tiles in my forge and actualy boiled the clay when over heated! The result is a foamed glassy material. I'll have to try a mub-dauber nest. .

How do I know so much about these critters? Every year our attic and any unfinished construction gets plastered with their nests. Every so often they must be knocked down and cleaned up. I've been doing this and observing the critters for over 25 years. . . .

Maybe I should start collecting the nests and sell them as "Old Mill Dauber Clay Flux". . . :)
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 16:04:14 GMT

I really like my home made double lung bellows---but it's not the easiest thing to drag around. A good hand crank blower would be a lot easier to move, a bad one is a pain to use; but it's gonna cost more than $20 unless you get lucky. A Spare battery, battery charger and DC fan from a car heater system would work and be under $20.

   Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/07/02 16:05:16 GMT

What kind of blacksmithing involves filing,polishing and assembling iron parts?
   Liz - Thursday, 03/07/02 17:23:32 GMT

Liz, It depends on the industry the smith is working in and the time period. A "whitesmith" finished and decorated forged products usualy removing all the black scale. But various tool makers and machine part makers did the same.
Up until machining took over almost all manufacturing processes many machine parts (think of old rail road steam engine parts) were forged, then hand filed and finished. Some machine operations such as drilling or boring may have been performed using machines but flat surfaces, fits and keyways were made by chisling, fileing and hand scraping. Even after the invention of planners, shapers and milling machines in the mid 1800's many items were hand finished well into the early 1900's. These workers had various names but most were shop hands with titles like "chipper", "finisher" and "fitter". Today most have been replaced by "machinist".
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 18:01:18 GMT

More. . The same processes, filing, polishing and assembling can be applied to armourers, locksmiths and jewlers. Although jewlers are not considered blacksmiths, many blacksmiths make iron, steel and stainless steel jewlery.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 18:05:03 GMT

Can someone please tell me how to lay out a cone?
1'9 1/8" rad on bottom, 1'3 1/2" rad on top, 6 13/16" tall
   Chris Johnson - Thursday, 03/07/02 20:49:36 GMT

Thomas: I'm writing this at school, so I figure it must be the network that I'm on that is causing this e-mailing difficulty, so I'll check this again at home and try to get in touch with you. Sorry you spent all that hard work for nothing! :[ If you'd like to try it again, my e-mail is Ellimist20 at aol.com, and I KNOW that address won't bounce.

~S. Anglin
   S. Anglin - Thursday, 03/07/02 21:02:51 GMT

Me Powered blower: Tim, if you don't like the 12 volt route, have an old air cooled VW motor laying around, and have a bicycle to steal parts from, I can turn you on to a "Vegiwilcock". A VW engine cooling air fan powered by a bicycle gear train. You crank the crank with Me power and lots of forge suitable air comes out.

The 12 volt route would be easier on your arm and slightly easier to haul around though.
   Tony - Thursday, 03/07/02 22:00:35 GMT

Cones Chris: Click on this link. Its on our 21st Century Page under MATH.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/07/02 22:10:44 GMT

I am a knifemaker with a fair amount of experience using a hammer and anvil to forge blades. I am now ready to either buy a power hammer, or build a hydraulic forging press. Having never used either what are ya alls feelings on which would best suit my needs.

Wish I could afford both. :o)
   Keith - Friday, 03/08/02 00:31:42 GMT

Blower --
Tim, not a new idea, (and maybe obvious), but if you go 12 volt you can use a momentary-contact foot switch (or even push button) so the blower only runs when you're actually at the forge.

Along the lines of Tony's Vergiwilcock, you might be able to scrounge one of those bicycle exercise stands where the rear wheel turns a squirrel cage blower. You'd probably have to cobble together a housing (or substitute a real blower), though.
   Mike B - Friday, 03/08/02 00:49:10 GMT

I'm trying to blacksmith bronze and having trouble with it breaking. Can you help?
   Erik - Friday, 03/08/02 07:34:49 GMT

Hammers vs. Presses Keith, Bladesmiths that are using hydraulic presses are using them for processing laminated steel "Damascus" billets. Currently the best tool for that is a McDonald rolling mill. It does the same job with 1/10th the horsepower of a hydraulic press. See our book review page for plans or the Kayne and Son website for a commercial model.

Power hammers have a great deal more flexibility of use than either a hydraulic press or rolling mill. However, each has their advantages and disadvantages.

Mechanical power hammers are like the rolling mill in that they take little horsepower for the amount of work they do. A good properly adjusted hammer can produce light taps one moment and full forging blows the next. They are much faster than a press but also difficult to control if not well tuned. The problem is that today none are manufactured new and you are on your own when it come to maintenance and parts.

Air hammers have most of the flexibility of mechanical hammers but require more horsepower or an air compressor with more horsepower. Generaly they are easier to learn to use than a mechanical hammer. Control is almost always good with an air hammer whereas it can be erratic with a mechanical hammer. Currently there are several manufacturers of small air hammers for blacksmiths.

Centaur Forge sells the Kuhn self contained hammer in several sizes. This German made hammer has long been considered the "Cadilac" of small hammers. There are also cheaper clones of the Kuhn on the market manufactured in Turkey, but you get what you pay for.

Kayne and Son manufacture and sell the "Big Blue". This is probably the most economical domestic hammer on the market and is very popular. You get more machine per dollar than anywhere else. Kayne also sells their version of the McDonald mill. This is a great machine for drawing out laminated steel billets and for general drawing work of all types. The big advantage of these machines is that they are quiet and do not require a heavy foundation or floor (no impact).

Striker sells imported Chinese hammers that are redesigned copies of Beche' hammers, which in turn were part of Chambersburg until a few years ago. Both Beche' and Chambersburg are now defunct. The Striker hammers are a cast frame self contained hammer and very economical. Striker supports these hammers. This is important. Many have purchased Chinese hammers directly from the factory in China or as buying groups and have had great difficulties getting support for some serious problems from the factory.

Wallace Metal Work sells the KA-75 striking hammer and used hammers of all makes. The KA is a unique machine that is good for many jobs. However, it is not "auto repeating" and thus not good for drawing long tapers. It is a hard hiting "single stroke" air hammer that is excellent for die work and hand held held tooling work. The single stroke means that it follows the motion of the foot control. You may get many blows in one heat but not nearly as fast as a self repeating hammer. The KA is also a small compact machine that takes little space in your shop.

Lots of choices. . .
   - guru - Friday, 03/08/02 14:48:06 GMT

Press or hammer? Now that is sorta difficult. They do not do exactly the same job. At least the knife makers I know do not use them in the same way. In fact most I know have both...... Use teh hammer to draw out pattern-weld billets and the press for developing special patterns and for squaring up the billets.
   Ralph - Friday, 03/08/02 14:49:13 GMT

Forging Bronze: Erik, Most brass and bronze is very forgable but there are types that are not. So you need to start with a known alloy. Much of what is available is designed for machinability and has high amounts of lead. Leaded alloys tend to crumble and fall apart if over heated in the slightest. Note however than some forging alloys have a small amount of lead.

Once brass or bronze has been overheated it breaks up and cannot be forged back together. So overheating is the most common problem. I have always forged brass and bronze using a torch for heat OR a low power gas forge. It CAN be done using a coal forge but it is very difficult. Forging temperature is a very low red heat that can only be seen in low light. I generaly judge the heat by the "blush" that appears on the surface just as it reaches the correct temperature, but this is only visible on clean metal.

Brass and Bronze can be worked from forging temperature down to room temperature. However, cold working hardens the material and it may crack if worked too much while cold. The usual process of cold working is to anneal and work, then anneal and work. When forging you get the same results except that you start working while the metal is at high temperature. As it cools it is annealed and you may continue working it but not to the extent of when at forging temperature.
   - guru - Friday, 03/08/02 15:03:34 GMT

what should i make my molds out of if i want to cast brass steel or iron? i am useing the lost wax teqnique by the way.

   scot kelly - Friday, 03/08/02 17:36:42 GMT

how do i fill molds with brass iron or steel?
   scot kelly - Friday, 03/08/02 17:38:51 GMT

My question is actually a historical question. How long did it take to forge a breastplate or create a suit of plate in medieval times? How about Chainmail? I have been searching, all the wrong places, and have found detailed instructions for how to do it but nothing relating to the time involved historically. Thanks for your help.
   Rick - Friday, 03/08/02 18:06:40 GMT

Scot, you need to get a book or two on the subject and study them. C.W. Ammen's Casting Brass and The Metalcasters Bible would be a good start.

Molds can be made of plaster, green sand or petrobond sand.

To get the melted metal into the mold you need a "sprue", an addition to the pattern that extends to the surface of the mold. You may also need risers to feed the casting as well as vents. These are all added to the pattern and then cut off after the part is cast. The sprue and risers can often equal the volume of metal in the finished part.
   - guru - Friday, 03/08/02 18:17:01 GMT

Could you please give me a ball park price for a portable forge I own. It is a Canedy Otto Mfg. Co. made in Chicago Heights, IL. The model is Western Chief Royal #1086. The bed of the forge is approximately 3ft x 4ft. It is in excellent condition and has always been kept indoors. It orginally came from an Amish farm in Arthur, IL. Thanks so much. Alice
   Alice - Friday, 03/08/02 18:38:23 GMT

Historical Time Rick, The question is not "time" but "manhours". Most of these things were worked on by numerous crafts people. Blacksmiths, grinders, polishers and engravers besides the armourer. A week in a 5 man shop may be 200 to 400 manhours. Sometimes these folks might be cottage laborers and not work full time in the contracting shop. This can lengthen the calendar time as well as adding manhours.

Finishing by grinding and polishing is very time consuming and one armourer may have employed numerous workers to do this task alone. Raising shapes in heavy plate is also time consuming and there would have been aprentices and journeymen involved in that. There is a low probability that any one full suit of armor was made by one person.

Maile was often a cottage industry where an entire family, including children, would work on various stages. How the hours of labor by women and children was counted could be debated. But there WERE hours no matter how cheap.

THEN there is the matter of quality or decoration. Most armor and weapons seen in museums today was the high class or ceremonial work. Engravers may have spent months just decorating a fancy piece. The average foot soldier would have very plain armor with no engraving and perhaps little polishing. The manhours could range from 10 to 1 depending on the decoration alone.

AND lastly there is the skill of the craftsperson. A highly skilled worker in a well equiped shop can out perform a worker with poor tools and little practice. Differences of 4 to 1 are quite possible.

I haven't asked Eric Thing how long it takes to raise a helmet but I would guess a full week's labor or more. Polishing, fiting and finishing another week. A breast plate or shield would take about the same depending on complexity.

Then, as now, time is money. If you spend more you can possibly get something done in less time. Or get the same manhours in less calander time. But this only applies to jobs where more workers can be applied to one job.

Without historical records and accurate descriptions of the exact work done all you can do is guess.
   - guru - Friday, 03/08/02 18:54:45 GMT

I am increasingly becoming interested in custom knife making and I happen upon a site where the author gave very precise instuction (both photo and text) on the making of knives. The one I read was on the making of a lockback. Unfortunately I didn't get the site bookmarked. Old PB dinosaur puter crashed b4 I had a chance. I beleive the man was from Australia or perhaps New Zealand but I could be mistaken on either. Does anyone know what site this could be? I've been searching for days for it with no luck and would appreciate any help locating it again. Thanx, Scott"Dodge"Scheer
   Dodge - Friday, 03/08/02 19:36:26 GMT

Thanks Ralph!
   Erik - Friday, 03/08/02 23:50:54 GMT

try > www.blades.web.za/
then > folders
then > How to make sliplock folders

Should get you into the information.
   - Conner - Saturday, 03/09/02 15:58:03 GMT

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