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 9 - 17, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Dodge, How to make a Sliplock Folder is shown at: www.blades.web.za/folders_sliplock_how_to_make.htm.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/09/02 03:30:21 GMT

Frank T.,
I'll give ya "A" for effort but the address didn't work. tried the root and combos of it but no luck. Thanks anyway. Still searching!!
   Dodge - Saturday, 03/09/02 07:06:20 GMT

try > http://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

I would appreciate any information about working with colored anodized aluminum in sculptures and mobiles.
   Susan Garrett - Saturday, 03/09/02 19:29:38 GMT

Thanks Conner,
That worked
   Dodge - Saturday, 03/09/02 19:32:31 GMT

Is it practical to twist square tubing? If so how?
I am making a chair and do not want to make it from solid square due to its weight.


   Jim E - Saturday, 03/09/02 19:53:48 GMT

Anodized Aluminium Susan, Aluminium is anodized after it is formed. The more even the finish the more even the anodizing. We generaly hand finish aluminium parts all over with 320 grit wet-or-dry sand paper to produce a flat even finish. Cylindrical parts are polished in a lathe and flat parts are sometimes finished with a reciprocating sander. This produces little circular swirls. Any surface texture or scratching will show through the anodizing.

Anodizers can produce almost any color you want. gold, blue , black and white (clear) are common. Most anodizers will run items in small lots or even individual pieces along with other work. Discuss your needs with them before planning your project.

Note that different alloys may etch and color differently. So if you mix different materials (sheet and bar), be sure they are the same alloy if you want them to match.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/09/02 22:17:10 GMT

Twisting Square Tubing: Jim, there are several methods that work. One is to fill the tube with a low temperature melting alloy, twist it, then melt out the alloy. The other is to insert a tube or bar (mandrel) that fits snuggly into the tube (but not tight) and then do the twist. The advantage to this method is that you can do the twisting hot. Note that the tube is going to be redced in size and will grab the mandrel. You need to plan on having a way to press out or pull out the mandrel.

AND. . depending on the proportions of the tube you may be able to put in a gentle twist without collapsing the tube. All you can do is test it.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/09/02 22:37:28 GMT

Twisting Square Tubing: Would it work to fill the tube with ice? Just a brainstorm.

   Jim E - Saturday, 03/09/02 23:22:10 GMT

Jim, It HAS been recommeded for bending by many of our friends in the Northern climates where they can use nature as a freezer for most of the year. . .

You have to be sure to allow room for expansion of the ice. I would anneal the tubing prior to either method of cold bending.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/10/02 00:09:40 GMT

I,m in Alaska so I it shouldn't be to much of a problem to freeze it.
Thanks for the advice!

   Jim E - Sunday, 03/10/02 01:07:04 GMT

Another medium you mind try is clean dry sand. I know it works on bending round thin wall pipe and it would have the advantage of allowing you to use a certain amount of heat during the twist.
   Larry - Sunday, 03/10/02 02:03:51 GMT

Armor and Time:

Well, using modern material and tools, it still took me 130 man-hours to finish my byrnie (12,800 links, 22.25 pounds (10 kilos) and 1/4 mile of 14 ga. wire. My friend experimented with riveting mail, and it took him 10 times longer than butted mail. I suspect that experience and better tools would speed this up, so the truth would lie somewhere between.

A simplified version of the Coppergate helm (see the Anvilfire Armoury) took about 40 hours. The armorers over at the Armour Archive (www.armourarchive.org) considered this a LOOONG time for a simple helm. Still, the 60 or so rivet holes were drilled with a modern drill and bit. Think of the additional time it would take punching each one or using a bow drill with a reciprocating spade bit!

The modern age is materials rich and labor dear. The medieval period was materials poor and labor rich. Nothing like a large labor pool for booring, repetitive jobs. I can take a power boat out by myself, but I need 6 to 18 folks to take out the longship for a Sunday afternoon cruise.

Until clocks came into wide use, hours, when they were even observed outside of monastaries, were divided into 1/12 of the daylight and 1/12 of the dark. This means each hour was longer or shorter every day of the year. Consequently, "hours" were more of a concept than a reality, and time had a whole different meaning. I travel 60 miles to work each day. To cover the same distance on the longship once took 5 days. (Bad winds, but still...). On the other claw, the Vikings never had to be at work Monday morning. Wherever they were that's where the work was.

It's an entire different mindset. If your trying to quantify a process for modern comparisons or duplication, hours are useful. If you're trying to get inside the medieval mind, think in terms of days and seasons and "time enough".

A few sprinkles of much needed rain on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 03/10/02 03:35:52 GMT

good guru ...is something wrom with the members forum??? I tryed to get in and it started to download a file??(index.php3).... thought you should know.
   MP - Sunday, 03/10/02 08:57:48 GMT

Guru, It looks as though I will be going to Switzerland on business in the near future. I am very interested in visiting shops while I am there. I am planning a few excursions to Germany, Italy and France. Is there a database or reference guide that would be of assistance or do you know of the addresses of any shops over there. Thank you. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Sunday, 03/10/02 14:57:33 GMT

Login Errors MP, Yes something may be wrong. Paw-paw noticed it last night but I couldn't reproduce it. He is reinstalling his browser. . . It could be related to later versions of Netscape or IE than I have. It started the the same time as when Kiwi made some changes in the server security setup and I expect it may be related to that. Please e-mail me with your browser version.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/10/02 15:59:19 GMT

Switzerland: Tim, Our German translator on the International Glossary project is Swiss. I will mail you his e-mail address.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/10/02 16:00:51 GMT

Guru, I got same as MP when trying to chat.

while I am whining I might point out that a "post" buton in the same frame as the form would make life simpler for me. reason is I can not post from my browser (textonly noframes), as it is now I must borow Monicas computer to post. just that button would be GREAT.
thanks for a great forum Guru
   OErjan - Sunday, 03/10/02 19:48:12 GMT

How do I make a dishing stump for helms and armor? Is there a better way to shape a helm, breastplate, knee cops etc? Do you heat the metal or hammer it cold? If it must be heated how do I heat a peice of plate thats large enough to make a breastplate. I only have a small brakedrum forge. I was thinking of hetaing the plate with a oxy-acetelyne torch and then hammering it. Also I was thinking of making a dummy-head on a pole that I would hammer the helm around to shape it. Any help is greatly appreciated.
   Tim - Sunday, 03/10/02 21:45:11 GMT

i am very interested in working with copper. i am curious about soldering two sheets of copper together (about 1/20). would that work...to use a soldering iron or gun? what do i need to get to begin this? do you recommend anything?
thank you!
   - Karli - Sunday, 03/10/02 22:06:11 GMT

Dear Guru,
An old hanging oillamp that's made of cast iron (one eight to three sixteenth inch thick)broke into about 20 to 30 pieces.The cast iron supports are sort of "filigree" art work.
Would you know any body in the Eastern USA that could weld this for me.
Thank you,
Tom Schreuders
   Tom Schreuders - Sunday, 03/10/02 22:14:59 GMT

can anyone tell me something about copper (soldering, brazing, or welding.....)
   Karli - Sunday, 03/10/02 22:36:00 GMT

Ok i have a project i have to do and i have little time to do it.Can you please tell me where i can go (internet wise) and find indival pieces of scale armor or if someone is willing to sell about 700-750 pieces that are about 1/8 thick and 1 inch wide buy 2 inches long?They don't even have to put the holes in,i'll do that. The pieces should be rectangler( i need to shape it a certain way) I know how to make it i've done it before but i have to make other things with it, so buy just buying the alredy cut pieces will save me time. If you know anybody that is willing to sell me pieces or if anybody knows a site please,PLEASE,email me!
Roman Tressler
overdrive28 at hotmail.com

   Roman Tressler - Sunday, 03/10/02 22:52:51 GMT

Helms and Armor Tim

To make a "dishing stump" First you cut down a 50 to 100 year old tree. Many prefer Oak but yellow pine works fine. Then you saw off a "stump" length section. I like about 30". Depressions can be carved or burnt. It the wood is dry burning works well. Just heat the metal in your forge and start hammering it on the stump. The depression will be self forming. . Generaly the depressions need to be MUCH shallower than you think.

Take another shorter stump. . . Bend a cut off piece of truck axel in an "L" shape and embed one end in the stump. You now have a raising stake. If the axel has a large rounded flange torch off the flat parts, grind the edges smooth and round, and you have a "mushroom" stake. Set it in another stump. . . That big log is getting a LOT shorter. . .

See our Armory page for details on similar tools.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/10/02 23:55:11 GMT

Broken Cast Iron: Tom, that is going to need to be brazed back together. Yes, the brass is NOT going to match. It will have to be painted. Almost any welder can do the job if you are willing to pay for the two or three hours its going to take.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/10/02 23:57:28 GMT

Scales: Roman, that is a 37" square sheet cut into those 700 pieces. . . OR 116 feet of 1" wide strip cut into pieces. . . Its a LOT of cutting. I'd go to my steel wharehouse and ask if they can (will) do the job. THAT is what they are there for.

1/8" is going to be REAL heavy. I'd go with 14 or 16 ga.
   - guru - Monday, 03/11/02 00:03:39 GMT

Soldering Sheet: Karli, Normal electric soldering irons don't have enough power to solder sheet unless the pieces are very small (like for jewlery). Copper conducts heat VERY rapidly so it take a lot of energy to get the joint up to temperature.

A propane torch will work but the bottle mount type do not work well pointer downward. Liquid fuel gets in the tip and they go out. A commercial gas/air torch works better. But if you position your work right you may get away with a cheap hardware store torch.

The metal needs to be cleaned bright and shiney. Then it is tinned. The best thing I have ever used for copper is paste flux with powder tin in it. When you see the surface flash bright and silvery it time to add solder. Low temperature solders work better than high temperature.

Copper is very soft and easy to work with. I would make a folded "lock seam" in the sheet and then solder that if need be.

Copper can also be brazed with an oxy-acetylene torch. You will need to go to a welding school to get lesons on that.
   - guru - Monday, 03/11/02 00:11:59 GMT

I have had no luck on "slack tub" nor the internet~~HELP! I am looking for info on Buffalo Forge, post drills. Specifilly, #611. The one that I have, still has the shipping label on the back. It was shipped from Monkey Wards in Oakland Ca., to Alturas, Ca. Thank you for your time.
Terry Reeve
   Terry (Firewalker) Reeve - Monday, 03/11/02 00:47:12 GMT

Buffalo Forge Company, AKA Buffalo Blower and Forge, Buffalo, NY, USA:

In the early 1980's Buffalo Forge built a plant in Amherst, VA. They built industrial air handling units and large blowers. Nobody there had any clue about the history if the company. The plant has been bought and sold and been Buffalo Forge and not and then back again.

In 1970 Buffalo Forge Company published the seventh edition of a book titled Fan Engineering. 104,250 leather bound editions. I have one. The 6th Edition was published in 1961.

In the 1950's during the great nuclear war scare and push to build bomb shelters Buffalo Forge manufactured their last hand crank blowers for providing air to home shelters. They were a cheap light weight version of their hand crank forge blowers.

In Blacksmiths and Farriers' Tools at the Shelbure Museum
Buffalo Forge manufactured a tire bander patented in 1887.

In 1879 William F. Wendt organixed the firm which became known as the Buffalo Forge Company in Buffalo, New York to manufacture a portable blacksmith forge with a geared lever-driven blower. . . About 1890 they began to make a line of hand-operated blaclsmith post drills.

By the 1890's lever operated punches, shears and bar cutters made for Buffalo's own sheet metal metal work proved so sucessful that they were addedto their line pf blacksmiths' equipment. It was not long before the machines were made to be driven by power, and combination machines and bending rolls were added to their production.

In 1900 a geared crank-operated blower for their forges was introduced which lead them into making small belt driven blowers and exhaust fans and ventilating fans for industrial plants.

In 1966, Mr. R.C. Beutler of Buffalo Forge said, "The Forge business is just about extinct and the line has been reduced to just a few models.

In an 1899 Carey Machinery and Supplies Catalog (Baltimore, MD) There are 18 different forges starting from a hugh industrial down draft forge that probably weighed 1,000 pounds or more, down to little bench top portable forges with the original lever action. There are 9 post drills from the smallest hand crank models to large belt operated back geared models. Several are listed as patent 1873 so they they are probably not Buffalo drills and were most likely made by Champion Blower and Forge.

In 1916 a Sears, Roebuck and Co., Tools Machinery Blacksmiths' Supplies catalog had a very similar selection of drills, portable forges and other blacksmiths' tools that may have been made by Buffalo, Champion or directly for Sears under their "Acme" brand. The same catalog has more engine lathes than forges.

In the 1928, Tenth Edition of the Carey Machinery and Supplies Catalog the large forges are gone and there are only three small Buffalo drills listed. Little Giant power hammers are now listed. The downturn in smithing had already started.
   - guru - Monday, 03/11/02 03:43:00 GMT

Posted a notice for Jamestown Settlement's "Military Through the Ages" next weekend over on the Virtual Hammer In. We'll have our small early medieval forge at work there this year.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/11/02 04:08:18 GMT

thank you guru!
what is a folded lock seam?
my intentions are to just get the basic armature together with the soldering gun.
what i was thinking is....soldering copper tubing (3/8") together, only at certain points, then welding (with the oxy-acetelene torch) the sheet copper to the tubing....the tubing will be the frame.
or......can i tack-solder (like tack welding)?
my concern is this: i have access to everything i need to weld (MIG, TIG, arc) at school, during school hours...but i would like to be able to do some of the attachments here at home.
got any suggestions?
this is a great thing you got here! oh, what do i use to clean the copper? thanks so much!
   karli - Monday, 03/11/02 04:30:48 GMT

I always start the first fire in a new forge with flint & steel.
   Allen - Monday, 03/11/02 05:08:12 GMT

In casting steel or brass, what would the molds be made of? Clay, sand? A special kind? thanks
   aophaug - Monday, 03/11/02 05:51:23 GMT

The order of assembly must be one of equal or diminishing temperature processes. For example; if you soft solder the armature together and then try to weld or braise on the sheet, the solder will let go and you will have a pile of hot parts on your footsies...not good. This is especially true of copper which conducts heat very fast.
Yes you can tack with solder, even though is is much weaker than welding. You can also get solder in a series of diminishing freeze temperatures, one for each step in the assembly....fussy fun.
Roman, consider taking your patterns to a shop with an automatic plasma or lazer or water jet cutting set up...will save lots of time and cleanup.
Tom, It can also be welded, but the setup and the job and the cleanup are crazy making by either method.
Aophaug; Casting is thousands of years old and every possible method has been done...So you need to read up a bunch to ask a question that will yield an answer that you can use.

Readers all. The good Guru has his noble head in the clouds, as is proper; So, those of us here in the dirt have an obligation to see that his rice bowl is filled. That way we can continue to pump His Innocents for information. This is done by JOINING THE ANVILFIRE CYBERSMITHS! All grovelers who have neglected to do so should writhe with guilt! There is only one form of absolution here.
   - Pete F - Monday, 03/11/02 08:54:43 GMT

Brass, Molds Aophaug, I answered ALMOST the identical question for Scot Kelly on Friday (will be in last weeks archives soon).

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.
   - guru - Monday, 03/11/02 15:25:58 GMT

copperrose at excite. . . Your Pub registration mail bounced

buffalomtn at email. . . Your Pub registration mail bounced.

That is 2 out of 9 registrations processed today. If your e-mail doesn't work, you don't get registered.
   - guru - Monday, 03/11/02 22:26:06 GMT

where can i buy silver stock

   abe - Monday, 03/11/02 22:34:53 GMT

A hearty second to Pete F's notion. If your not a member of Cybersmith's, you should be. It is well worth the money spent.
   Brian C - Monday, 03/11/02 23:23:48 GMT

Are you still interested in that anvil mentioned earlier?
I'm done thinking.
I realized I do not have any hardy tools to fit this anvil.
So my intent is to trade down to a 100 - 150# anvil, with about a 1" hardy hole. I am in need of an anvil in equal or better condition, as well as some hardy tools. Specifically a single gadroon tool. (couple of fullers would work)

You can reach me at pennellsean at hotmail.com to discuss details instead of using the Guru's forum.

   Sean - Monday, 03/11/02 23:51:16 GMT

Got another question for you...
How did the blacksmiths of old make the files to use on their products that needed to be filed?
   Sean - Tuesday, 03/12/02 00:06:49 GMT

Abe. Indian Jewelers Supply Co., Gallup, New Mexico. Ph 505-722-4451. They have a nice catalog, including tools.

Sean. I'm told that the file maker sat at a table where the annealed file blanks were fastened down in fron of him. He used a small cold chisel and a bevel faced hammer and cut the teeth, about one cut per second, angling the chisel of course, because the file is used on the forward stroke. Later, the files were hardened and tempered just enough to take the snap out of them. "The 20th Century Toolsmith and Steelworker" book suggests protecting small teeth with a mixture of half salt and half wheat flour. Make it doughy and spread it on before taking the hardening heat. I doubt if files were done that way, but the old-timers had it figured out so that the teeth wouldn't scale away.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/12/02 02:02:01 GMT

From Theophilus (ca. 1120)

"Chapter 17. Files

"There are also files made of pure steel, both large and medium...four cornered, three cornered and round. ...the insides (of the larger ones) are made of soft iron; the outside covered with steel. When they have been hammered into the size... they are smoothed on a grindstone and cut with a hammer having a cutting edge at each end [of its head]. Others, again, are cut with the chisel...

"Chapter 18. the Hardening of Files

"Burn the horn of an ox in the fire and scrape it. Mix it with a third part of salt and grind it vigorously. Then put the file into the fire and, when it is red-hot, sprinkle this composition over it on every side. When the coals are strongly blazing, open them up and hastily blow all around so that the hardening does not diminish. Immediately take out the file and quench it evenly in water. Take it out and dry it a little over the fire. In this way harden all files made of steel."

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

Some of this is a touch foggy (...hey, it's the 12th century, what do you expect?) but most of it is still practical. The salt and burnt horn would provide a carbon-rich protective coating to prevent decarburization during the tempering process, especially with fine, thin teeth. Sounds an aweful lot like what frank describes in the 20th century.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 03/12/02 04:02:46 GMT

Large Hardy Hole: Sean, Ever Hear the word "bushing"? They can be fabricated or made from sqare tubing. Too small a hole is a problem.

What is a "gadroon"? I never heard of that one.

OBTW, Your Name is a hot link through our e-mail incryption system. It keeps spammers from collecting your address. Its there, you just have to click on it.

Files were a specialty item a VERY long time ago. In England during the 1800's, the Stubbs Company used cottage workers to make files. Stubbs supplied the steel. The cottage workers forged the file to shape, annealed it, scraped and ground the blank, then cut the teeth (one at a time. . .). Then Stubbs collected the files and did the hardening and tempering. Much of the work was a family business (lots of child labor) and as such helped to develop the many shapes and styles of files we have today. This specialty probably dated to the beginning of the last millinieum. It is known tha in the teens (1300ad . .) wire making, saw blade cutting and files were made by specialized makers. I suspect they date much earlier.

In many places where we would use a file or sandpaper, scrapers were used. An amazing amount of work can be done with a scraper and they are easy to make.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/12/02 04:15:06 GMT

Hmmmm new glossary terms, File, Scraper, Sandpaper. Time for a filemaking FAQ too!

Bruce, thanks for the citations backing up my statements!
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/12/02 15:02:43 GMT

everyone talks about using silver and nickle in damascus- is it easy to weld them to steel or is there another way people use it
   abe - Tuesday, 03/12/02 19:31:49 GMT

I have a basic question. I am writing a novel and I am searching for the correct technical name for the shoulder plate found on a knight's armor. Do you know the correct term for this piece?
   John - Tuesday, 03/12/02 19:47:40 GMT

shoulder plate: Depending on time, place and technique - "shoulder cop, shoulder guard, shoulder piece, epauleire, epaulette, epaulet, pauldron"

(A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor... By George Cameron Stone 1934)
   - Olle Andersson - Tuesday, 03/12/02 20:21:55 GMT

But then again, John, why should you trust me? Go to the library, do some research. Read a book. NOT a novel.
   - Olle Andersson - Tuesday, 03/12/02 20:34:21 GMT

kinda depends on the period and location. but here are a couple that I know of:

Laminated armor for the shoulder extending at the front and rear to protect the armpit

Laminated armor for the shoulder and top of the arm.
   Escher - Tuesday, 03/12/02 20:45:14 GMT

Greetings, I am new to blacksmithing and have recently purchased some of the basic things necessary for a hobbists smithing shop. Though I've had a bit of difficulty locating a readily available, (I mean within my area so I don't have to wait for the mail to show up), supply of iron on which to bang. Since the majority of my banging in these first months is insturctional by nature I've been wondering if rebar from ye olde Home Depot is a decent 'practicing' medium. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Thanks for any advice you guys can give. And, Guru, a special thanks to you since your website has answer so many of my questions already.
   Wyrmwood - Tuesday, 03/12/02 21:12:22 GMT

Rebar: Wyrmwood, Yeah, you can forge it. Pretty nasty stuff. It is generally higher carbon than mild steel and thus is a little harder to forge. The high strength type should not be quenched in water as it will be very hard and brittle. THEN there is that awful texture to contend with. . Occasionaly smiths make tools of the harder types.

See our FAQs page. There is a brief article on re-bar.

If you have a Home Depot there should be local welding or machine shops to ask about mild steel bar.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/12/02 21:50:06 GMT

Guru, the reason my part of the glossary has so many words for the same thing in some places.
The reason is that the thing, process... may have different names in different parts of the country , and several of them are in the same dictionaries and even more reside in my head.
And some groups of tools have one name for you and several different names for each tool here, divider for one has several, depending on precise construction.
Bågcirkel = one with arched link between the legs that can be locked.
stickcirkel = just two sticks with a friction joint where they meet.
fjäderpassare =one that has a spring to keep it open and screw adjustment...
And the other way around is as true, something you have several names for has just the one over here.
   OErjan - Tuesday, 03/12/02 22:17:50 GMT

Guru, I am making some parts out of 4130 chrome moly tubing, the plan calls for heat treating to 38-45 r/c. What is the proper procedure for doing this?
Thanks alot in advance
   Kevin - Tuesday, 03/12/02 23:02:36 GMT

Calipers & Dividers: OErjan, Yes we have multiple names for these depending on type. I think our German relates to the wrong type. I was going to setup images to clarify the subject.

Dividers can be old fashioned "firm joint" (friction), wing type or "bow spring".

Calipers start as inside and outside "firm joint", wing and bow spring. But then you have Vernier Calipers and Dial vernier calipers and digital calipers.

Screw Micrometers are yet something else again and they now come in digital, both mechanical and electronic.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/12/02 23:39:33 GMT

SAE 4130:, Kevin this is from my reading of the charts (some squinting and extrapolating) in the ASM Heat Treater's Guide.

Austenitize at 1600°F (879°C) and quench in oil.

Temper at approximately 775°F (412°C) for a hardness of 38-45 (352-420 HB).

The tempering range for that hardness range is 640°F 890°F.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/13/02 00:21:07 GMT

Dear Guru,

I'm researching a blacksmith's shop that operated in Des Moines, Iowa, 1910 - 1924. I am hoping to nominate it to the National Register of Historic Places along with the commercial dairy next door, which gave the blacksmith the business of taking care of shoes for the delivery wagon horses. With that wordy introduction -- I am looking for information on blacksmithing practices and how the craft was passed on (apprenticeships?) in the African-American community. Perhaps it was the same as for the white community or perhaps it was different. Any ideas on sources to consult would be much appreciated. Thanks much. And kudos on a great looking site.
   Jay James - Wednesday, 03/13/02 02:43:51 GMT

Just happened to be looking at the Gas Facts page and something struck me. Plugged in the numbers and if I did everything right 1 mph=1.46667 feet/second. If the 25 fps flame velocity of acetylene is half the speed of sound I should be able to get the Volkswagen up around Mach 2!!!
BTW Thanks for the site, I'll join soon. Really.
   Jovan - Wednesday, 03/13/02 03:54:10 GMT

Ok Guru and company, you have all come through so many times before, I need your help again. I took my anvil to my welding class this evening to clean it up (it had 3 layers of paint and some rust on it) and I almost have it cleaned down to the bare metal and still no stamp or engravings. I am curious where it came from, who made it, where it was made, and what it is worth. I can take a picture of it and send it in if that helps but I will also describe it.
It is about 12 inches tall and 18 inches long at the base. The base is about 6 inches wide not including the feet that protrude slightly. It tapers in from the base to the top or "face." The face is about 12 inches long and about 5 inches wide. The horn is about 8-10 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter where it meets the body. The tip of the horn is about a half an inch in diameter. Overall it looks rather squat and stocky, not long and slender like some others I've seen. It has one square hardy hole thats about 3/4in square and it has a hole in the bottom thats about an inch square. It has another going into the front under the horn thats about the same as the hardy hole. The surfaces all over the anvil are rough and bumpy like it was chiseled from stone and the faceplate seems to have been wider than the top of the anvil and "wrapped" down over the edges when it was forged on. As near as I can figure the weight is about 200-250 lbs. It takes 2 people to lift. I might be a bit off on some of these dimensions since I'mnot looking at it now but if this type of monster sounds familiar to anyone I would appreciate any info you can give. Thanx for a great site and all the help.
   Tim - Wednesday, 03/13/02 04:02:52 GMT

Historical Methods: Jay, This is a fuzzy area. True legal apprenticeships ended with the emancipation proclamation. The key to the system was the apprentice being "bound" to the master. Even voluntary contracts of this sort became ilegal.

The system continued as a means of getting an education in a trade. However, the old fashioned apprenticeship laws were no longer in force. Agreements would be private and non-binding.

The period you are looking at was the hey-day of the general blacksmith shop and farriery. The automobile was primitive enough that many smiths made repairs on them and the automobile had not yet replaced the majority of horse drawn vehicles. Catalogs of the time had as many lathes in them as forges. Smiths that had done wagon and carriage work often made bodies for trucks. The character of the smithy was changing.

Blacksmith shops were becoming mechanized but there was still a great need for low cost laborers. Young boys would have been employed even if they were not "apprentices".

Probably the only difference between the black and white communities in this respect is the fact that in many locations (particularly in the rural South), mandatory public education was not enforced in regards to black children. If a black boy dropped out of school to go to work or simply because he didn't like school there would be no pressure from the authorities to get him back in school. This social negligence was a part of the so called "seperate but equal" policies of many states. I do not know if such things went on in the mid-west. However, it may have kept many from being educated and pushed them into manual labor jobs.

I suspect you are going to need to research every aspect of this shop and the people that worked there. Tax records, deeds, licenses, contracts, genealogy. It will be difficult but you may still be able to find someone still living that knows something of interest.

Good Luck!

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/13/02 04:34:08 GMT

Gas Facts Hmmmmmmmmm I never checked those numbers. . . will have to check my source on that!
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/13/02 04:35:42 GMT

Old Anvil: Tim, It sounds like a pre 1840's to possibly a mid 1700's anvil. Possibly an antique that you do not want to weld or grind on. Even aggressive rust removal may hurt its value IF it is a collectors item.

The lack of a pritchel hole dates it prior to about 1840. In general the less the feet protrude the older the anvil. "Colonial" era anvils had very small feet that were just barely pinched out to the side. In the early 1800's the feet protruded more but were smooth extensions of the body. As the century progressed the feet became more and more prominant on English anvils.

The face is probably extruded over the edges of the anvil from a couple centuries of use. I need good photos to tell more.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/13/02 04:50:38 GMT

I am interested in building old style wooden hand planes. One of the problems I am running into is the lack of smaller plane blade sizes. Most of the older plane blades are tapered slabs that look as if they were hand-forged. Is it possible to get these made at a reasonable cost.

   Mike Taylor - Wednesday, 03/13/02 18:10:05 GMT

If the work of every one of us was paid "reasonable" we would all be rich....
   - Olle Andersson - Wednesday, 03/13/02 18:24:30 GMT

Hi Jock,
I am gathering the parts to make a version of the NC-JYH. Could you get me a detailed closeup picture of the Little Giant toggle linkage. I am having a little trouble designing one from what I have been able to see
   Daniel (irontree) - Wednesday, 03/13/02 18:48:23 GMT

yes , im interested in making simple silver or iron chokers and collars, simple items are all im interested in. I would prefer to make my own and not order through another , so I was wondering how I would go about that, and what would I need and an aproximate cost. Ive heard about kiln's for jewelry but am not sure if that is what I would need , and need some ideas on how to go about getting the right width, size and texture . anyway any help would be appreciated *S*

   taelyn - Wednesday, 03/13/02 19:02:01 GMT

Gadroon = raised or recessed fluting or notch often oval, used for ornamental purposes.

The "blood grove" in knives is also called a "gadroon".
   - Sean - Wednesday, 03/13/02 21:07:31 GMT

Ok, I read on the post guidelines page that there are no stupid questions, well then here's mine! What's the difference between iron and steel?
   Tim - Wednesday, 03/13/02 22:15:05 GMT

Jovan - 25 fps sounds about right for acetylene "flame speed". By flame speed, generally what is meant is the flame propagation rate, or the rate at which flame moves through the substance when it burns. The higher the propagation rate, the more explosive the substance. Plastic explosives get burn rates up around 25,000 fps. And wreak much havoc as a result. Acetylene, though much slower, will burn in any concentration with air or oxygen, and is quick enough that it represents a real hazard if not managed properly. Some of the old-timers can tell you what happens when a carbide/water acetylene generator reaches about 15 psi in the tank...no more smithy, no more neighbors, no more smith! So that 25 fps burn rate is definitely something to be reckoned with.

   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/13/02 23:22:47 GMT

Tim, there are better and more specific answers about its genetic make up, but just to give you the idea, Iron is much more malleable than steel and far more resistant to corosion in the out doors. You may note that there are some examples of ironwork in europe and points east that have survived prior to medieval times. Ive heard of one example from the 4th century. Steel is good if it is properly maintained but doesnt fair too well bare to the elements. Iron is fibrous like wood and is low in carbon ( cannot be hardened even under high heat quenching) which makes like sculpting clay to work with. Steel is granular with far more carbon making it work harder. Iron is the choice for architectual work and repairing antique ironwork made of Iron.Some people wont have it any other way. Its time tested and a little pricey. can run you about 2 dollars U.S a pound. Hope this helps. Scott
   wolfsmithy - Wednesday, 03/13/02 23:44:36 GMT

thanks i was going to use about 14 ga. But it will be used so i needed something thick. The weight was going to be a problem, but i use to carry about 70-100lbs on my back and i work out normally and i did labor work over the summer, so i fighured i could deal with the weight. Thanks for the steel wharehouse idea, i never thought of that. But i actually have another question, where can i buy a cheep shear cutters thats able to cut about 14 gage if not thicker for about $200. I found one place but is there another i could look at (so i can compare). Thanks
   Roman - Thursday, 03/14/02 00:05:03 GMT

Plane Blades: Purchase precision ground and annealed tool steel stock, saw and file to shape, harden and temper according to package instructions, grind and sharpen. The thick heavy tapered blades are Japanese and all hand forged. Flat is much easier and more efficient.

Wood planes are often made of two halves and then glued together. Makes it a LOT easier to make the internal slotting.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 00:25:06 GMT

NC-JYH Linkage: Reproducing it exactly will be a trick. The toggles are made from used race car tie rods ends that have specialy modified short length. Very expensive new. . . I'll see if I have a better front view.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 00:28:23 GMT

Scale Armor: I still think 1/8" is going to be too heavy (just my opinion). The shape of the scale is as important as the thickness. A scale with a nice arch in two directions is much stronger than flat. Therefore you could use lighter material.

Its not traditional but alloy aluminium would make VERY good scale armor. In that case 1/8" would be 1/3 the weight of steel and nearly as strong. Get them black anodized and everyone will be admiring your "gun blued" armor. . .

When shears are rated for a given thickness that is THAT. Putting thicker stock in them results in broken or sprung frames.

Scales could be punched out to shape (with nice curved sides) with a custom punch and die. Very expensive to have a machine shop make but not too bad to do yourself. However, its going to take about 50 tons to punch out steel scales the size you described. Aluminium much less. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 00:37:52 GMT

Iron vs. Steel Iron is an element. It is a soft metal. Steel is a mixture (not an alloy or compound) of iron and carbon. The more carbon you add the harder the steel up to about 1.5%. Above that it gets weaker and very brittle, becoming cast iron.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 00:42:46 GMT


Does anyone know where I can buy stamped out candle cups and pans, or direct me to a manufactuer who can do a small run (qty 200).

Thank you !!!!! for any help at all

   Kevin - Thursday, 03/14/02 00:56:31 GMT

Iron and Silver Abe and Taelyn. Iron and silver together are basicaly incompatible. It would be possible to make a laminant but then nearly impossible to work it. Kind of like a cookie with creme filling. .

Japanese Mokume Gane is made of brass, copper, silver and rarely gold. These non-ferrous metals all have very similar strengths and working conditions.

In laminated steel (Damascus), you can use plain or alloy carbon steels with high alloy or stainless steels and wrought iron and pure nickle have also been used for artistic purposes. These metals are all similar in working properties and melting points.

Laminated steel and Mokume Gane are often used together such as in a knife or sword with a laminated steel blade and Mokume Gane furniture.

Taeyln, Working the two metals, iron and silver, are similar in many respects but also different. Iron must be worked hot (1800°F to 2400°F). Silver, when annealed (softened by heating and then cooling) can be worked cold. Under hammer and anvil the two will take similar force to work, one hot, the other cold.

To heat iron or steel for forging requires a forge. This can be fueled with charcoal, coal, oil or gas. Propane forges are very popular. You can buy one for small work for $350 see our product review of the NC-TOOL Whisper Baby on the 21st Century Page and pricing on the Wallace Metal Works page.

To anneal silver you will need a torch or forge.

To hammer and shape bar stock of either metal you will need a hammer and anvil. A heavy vise is also very helpful. Most of our advertisers sell these tools or you can find them used. Anvils sell for $3.50 to $7.00 a pound and a "small" anvil for forging iron is 100 pounds. There are alternatives but you need to know exactly what it is you want to do.

I recommend you take a course or two at one of the many blacksmithing or crafts schools. You quickly learn the type of tools you need when working in a fully equiped shop. It may also help you find out what you don't need.

See our getting started article linked at the top and bottom of this page and on our FAQs page.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 01:10:34 GMT

Candle Pans/Cups Kevin, Kayne and Son have them on their page. In that quantity they may discuss a discount. It doesn't hurt to ask.

If you need something else (heavier, larger, special) let me know. Send specs. The last time I made them for myself I made about 200. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 01:15:46 GMT

In the bloomery definition on your site I read that the ore was hammered into wrought iron BEFORE the iron was totally melted out of the rock. Does this mean that wrought iron is just a metal that contains the iron and the rock it was found in? Is there a smelting process in use today that creates a more refined version of the same thing? Is there still a mining process for this type of iron? I would be interested in smelting some of my own, just to say that an item that I made was 100% made by me from the start. This may be a bit ambitious of me but I am wondering if it's possible.
   Tim - Thursday, 03/14/02 03:06:39 GMT

Excuse me Sir/Maam,

I was wondering about folding steel, the techniques, tools, history, etc. I want to learn how to fold steel to make weaponry, in particular swords. I want to learn how to fold steel like they do to make katanas and other blades. If you have any info please contact me, if notcould you please steer me to a source that does have this information.

Ryan Williams
   Ryan - Thursday, 03/14/02 03:20:03 GMT

Wrought Iron Tim, The iron melts out of the ore in a relatively tall furnace and collects near the bottom as nearly pure iron. The atmosphere at that point of the furnace is critical to the condition and purity or the iron.

The mass of iron that is removed IS full of slag as well as charcoal and other debris. It is also very porus and is like forging sponge metal. In fact the process of consolidating the mass takes rather gentle taps rather than smashing blows. It is perfectly matched to the slow relatively inefficient water powered tilt hammer.

Some wrought is very clean while that made from a small poorly operated furnace can be pretty nasty. Poor quality wrought could be improved by forging it, laminating it and reforging it. This reduced the size of the slag inclusions as well as squeezing out excess.

In these furnaces if the iron is allowed to collect in the bottom as a liquid mass if absorbs a great deal of carbon and becomes cast iron.

Modern smelters make cast iron then convert it to steel by processes related to the Bessemer process where the cast iron has carbon removed by blowing oxygen through the liquid cast iron.

In the last modern process of making wrought Bessemer iron of nearly zero carbon had hot slag mixed with it which caused the iron to foam into a "bloom". This bloom was then compressed in a huge hydraulic press and then went on to be rolled into bar and plate. The silicon bearing slag and the rolling process produced a wrought iron that was indistinguishable from bloomery iron.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 05:10:08 GMT


For startesr, check out the "Sword" article in the Anvilfire "Armoury" section. That will give you a little better idea of what the historic practices were. I hope to have the illustrations and annotated bibliography (just re-discovered last week) posted within the next month. There are also a number of other websites, like swordforums.com, that deal with these issues.

Pattern welding and folding steel were historic ways to make up for the deficiencies in the steels caused by an irregular production process. Modern steels are consistent, homogeneous and reliable. The folding and pattern welding are mostly done for tradition now, or to create a beautiful design in the blade. When badly done, they can actually create an inferior blade when compared to competent work using modern steels.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/14/02 05:17:37 GMT

"Folding Steel" Ryan, "Folding" is a lazy use of language and a misnomer. The metal is "laminated", even when a single material is involved. The metal is forged (drawn out), cut, stacked, and forge welded back together. This process is repeated over and over. The result is a billit with many layers. The layers, which are a form of directional grain are a desired property.

In making decorative laminated steel or pattern welded steel, commonly called "Damascus", high and low carbon or plain carbon and alloy steel (for a color difference) are forge welded together. If the billet was folded, then like material would be welded to like creating a thick layer. The point is to make thin even layers so folding does not produce the desired result.

In some processes folding IS used. In the Japanese steel making process very high carbon steel lumps are stacked on a wrought iron billet and then welded into the billet. Then the billet is drawn out and folded over and over. In this folding process the billet is cut nearly through and then folded. The thin uncut part helping to hold the billet together.

When steel was rare and expensive it was common for smiths to recycle small or thin pieces of steel by folding them and welding them into a larger billet. Millions of old rasps and files have been recycled this way. However, the goal was not to process the steel or produce a specific layering.

Check out the books in the Centaur Forge catalog. Purchasing the entire series by Jim Hrisoulas would be a good place to start. There are many others.

But you are going to need to learn basic smithing and collect the tools to do so first. See our Getting Started article linked at the top and bottom of this page as well as on our FAQs page.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 05:37:32 GMT

Iron and Steel and Carbon:
Iron is an element. Steel is an alloy of iron (iron being the main component of steel), and at least some carbon. (there can, also, be other metallic ions present such as manganese, chromium, tungsten, etc. and also non-metallic ions such as phosphorous, silicon sulfur, etc.) But let me discuss iron and steel alloys solely. In steels containing 0.83% carbon or greater, much of the carbon is present as cementite a compound of iron and carbon, also called iron carbide. The cementite formula is generally Fe3 O. Most plain carbon steels are admixtures of iron, mostly, in a form called ferrite and cementite. To complicate matters a little, ferrite can take up to 0.02% carbon in solution. Steels usually have up to about 1.7% carbon, and never more than 2%.
Iron-carbon alloys of roughly 2-4% carbon are known as cast iron, which is very hard, brittle and cannot be used for cutting tools. Cast iron can have graphite particles in the solution, in addition to the ferrite and cementite.
The exact crystalline structure of the steel alloy mixture depends upon the percentage of carbon, and the original manufacturing conditions when the alloy was made, such as temperature, rate of cooling, and other factors. Further changes can be made to the steel crystal structure when it is subjected to later treatment such as annealing, quenching, and tempering etc.
Those treatments also change the properties of the steel alloy. Changes such as making the steel harder, or more shock resistant, etc.
   slag - Thursday, 03/14/02 05:45:12 GMT

Tim;When you get right down to it,in the simplest answer....
the diff between iron and steel is carbon. Iron has none. Steel has a little, often less than 1%.
It may sound like a simple/stupid question..but the wisest folks only found out recently, historically speaking. The difference used to be called magic.
Mike T.
Given the wisdom of Ollie's words...er, yes.
Roman: I agree that some folks need to handicap themselves and we all benefit from that tendancy in macho young guys....but...why not go for a stronger steel in a lighter ga.? If you are determined to cut curves mechanically in 14 ga, why not do it traditionally and use a steel cutting plate and shaped chisels. With practice it is pretty quick and the cheapest possible approach.
Jere' at the above URL is a good place if the good Guru doesn't have time...Guru is the first choice.
   - Pete F - Thursday, 03/14/02 07:31:55 GMT

I was allways tought that steel is an aloy (carbon and Iron) I was tought that plain steel is the most basic alloy. if I remember my metalurgy class right (it has been over 10 years) any time you add another element to a metal it becomes a alloy.
   MP - Thursday, 03/14/02 07:43:45 GMT

Iron / Carbon / Steel/
Torbern Olof Bergmann, (1735-1784), (from Sweden) discovered that carbon dissolved in iron was steel, around 1774-1775. He did extensive experimentation on iron-carbon alloys in order to help the Swedish steel industry.
   slag - Thursday, 03/14/02 08:46:11 GMT

Hi, I am a businessman with manufacturing rolling stock experience. I want to find American and European manufacturers of radial forging equipment to manufacture railwagon axles. I have GFM in America and Austria but need more contacts. Can you advise me where to find a listing? Thanks,
Best Regards,
   John Martin - Thursday, 03/14/02 09:29:00 GMT

Wrought Iron: made using the direct process AKA bloomery process---the iron does not liquify it gets to a "pasty" condition and oozes down toward the bottom of the furnace since it is heavy. You only "melt metal out of the rock" if you have native metal ores otherwise you have to turn the ore *into* metal first and not the oxide/sulphide/etc it is. The rest of the rock becomes part of the slag, often taking a bunch of the metal with it. A Bloomery furnace is relative short otherwise you can get Cast Iron.

Cast Iron forms as the ore moves down a larger and/or hotter furnace and so absorbs more carbon which lowers it's melting point allowing it to melt and pool in the bottom, (it melts and pools in the bottom because it has absorbed carbon and turned into cast iron not vice versa)

Wrought Iron made from cast iron by the indirect process (of which puddling was one) is not "indistinguishable" from bloomery iron as it often has a different tramp element fingerprint due to the higher temp processing (ie Mn is not usually picked up in a bloomery but using the same ore it may be much higher concentration in an indirect process WI).

MAking your own iron/steel can be done fairly simply but the yield for the work is *very* *low*.

If you can get to the Ironmaster Conference at Athens OH April 26-28, you can talk with a lot of people into this sort of thing---our "Iron Mistress" will be presenting a paper on our experiments in Y1K iron smelting.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/14/02 15:03:34 GMT

PS: if you are interested in the iron/steel debate
"Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" C.S.Smith covers a lot of the territory from the 1500's to the nailing down of *carbon* makes steel in the late 1700's.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/14/02 15:05:49 GMT

Maybe the difference between wrought iron and cast iron should be defined a little more.

Tim, as has been said, real wrought iron has very little carbon and some slag in it. So in Wolfsmithys post, you should add the term “Wrought” in front of every place Scott uses the word iron.

Cast iron, on the other hand, has a larger amount of carbon in it than steel. There is so much carbon in cast iron, that it forms small chunks of carbon inside the solidified mass. So much carbon that it all cannot react chemically with the iron (Fe).

Steel has more carbon than wrought iron and less carbon than cast iron.

The amount of carbon and controlling the reactions between the element carbon (C) and the element iron (Fe) define the differences between wrought iron, steel and cast iron. And then all of the different steels and cast irons.

Slag, you meant Fe3C, not Fe3O for cementite or carbide.

And from there........ many books have been written..... Grin.

I hope this helps to clarify wihtout getting into more detail.
   Tony - Thursday, 03/14/02 15:13:15 GMT

"indistinguishable" I should have said, from a practical standpoint you cannot tell the difference between bloomery iron and blast furnace. Generaly the smith cannot tell. Sulfur from the coal is the biggest worry.

The demarkation between cast iron and steel is fuzzy when you include alloy steels. Some modern alloy steels have more carbon than some cast irons.

"Melt" out of the ore, was probably wrong. Actually most of the rocky portions of the ore melt out leaving the spongey iron behind as it is reduced from the ore. There is flux in there too. This results in large quantities of liquid slag to drain from the bottom of the furnace. An it DOES indeed include a lot of iron.

Check out the link on our links page to the "Rockbridge Bloomery". It is a ton of work to get a very little bit of iron this way. There can also be a long learning curve figuring out how to treat your specific ore.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 16:15:30 GMT

Just to stir the pot a bit you can also make a high carbon "wrought iron" by post processing (or sometimes even during the smelting). "Blister steel" was made from wrought iron by a sort of severe case hardening process and "natural steels" were known---often from a longer smelt; since steel was believed to be a more pure state of iron a longer smelt to "purify" it more made sense--platonic idealism leading one astray.

We'll debate all day the semantics, the nits, even dates! but we're all usually *trying* to save the same thing each in our own idiosyncratic way...some of us are interested in the history of the craft and the continuation of the long line of smiths. Others have no interest at all---doesn't make them any less a blacksmith and I hope they will tolerate a discussion on historical ferrous metals technology every now and then; I'm fascinated by the fact that "mild steel" so omnipresent nowdays really dates only back to post ACW times and so to do accurate historical replicas a smith really needs to locate and learn to work Wrought Iron. "Practical Blacksmithing" by Richardson was written during the change over period and so has comments on using the different metals in it.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/14/02 17:08:18 GMT

Thank you all so much for your responses on the differences in metals and the bloomery process. It has helped a lot!
   Tim - Thursday, 03/14/02 18:00:11 GMT

Ok, Guru. I have pictures of the anvil taken with a digital camera. There are some high res and some low res so they are different sized files. Whats the address you want me to send them to?
   Tim - Thursday, 03/14/02 22:38:33 GMT

guru at anvilfire.com

Don't need oversize high res images (640 x 480 is big enough). Just need decent lighting and focus. . . You would be amazed at the images I get that you can't SEE anything.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/14/02 23:40:21 GMT

Hello. What is the best way to treat metal that you want to leave "natural" but that will be outside or in a moist environment such as a bathroom to prevent rust? Clear acrylic (high quality) spray, even several coats does not seem to be doing it! Thanks!!
   Wendy - Friday, 03/15/02 02:12:34 GMT

Ok, Guru. Pictures sent, I anxiously await your reply. Thanx again!
   Tim - Friday, 03/15/02 02:48:49 GMT

Does anyone know why the blade of a kryss was crafted with the wave in the blade? Was this functional or ornamental? Was if for damage potential?
   Tim - Friday, 03/15/02 03:11:55 GMT

I got the carving tools today that Matthew Parkinson donated to the Anvilfire auction. Matthew, you did a great job! My husband is very pleased.
   Leah - Friday, 03/15/02 03:19:57 GMT

Leah, You got a great deal!

Criss: Tim, Many cultures made wavy blades. They date back to the stone age. Our Irish Dempsey coat of arms has two wavy swords. Most criss were ceremonial blades or status symbols. Often a man could not carry a criss until he came of age. The number of waves somtimes had to do with luck or lucky numbers. Seven was a common number.

Besides the symbolism the shape is nothing more than a style, like a "Bowie" knife, often made oversized with exagerated features.

In the 1970's the children's televison show "3 2 1 Contact" did a report on a knife maker in the Phillipines making a criss. He forge welded several layers of hard and soft steel together then forged the blade without further lamination. Afterwards it was hardened, ground and etched. Primitive by our standards but authentic.

He had an open air shop. His forge was two parallel walls of masonry to hold the charcoal. There was either a hand crank blower or a bellows, it was not shown. His anvil was a large slab of steel next to his slack tub. All his tongs and small tools were hand made.

If you want specifics about a given criss you will need to study the culture it came from.
   - guru - Friday, 03/15/02 05:01:48 GMT

Thank you for the encourgement ... it comes at a good time. today did NOT go well... one of those days.
thank you
   MP - Friday, 03/15/02 05:13:45 GMT

Forging Wavy Blades: A story.

A number of years ago I was doing some work in a friend's shop and there was one of the usual hangabouts pestering us about how to forge a knife. It was obvious that we were focused on the job at hand but the hangabout didn't get it. . .

So, just before we broke for lunch I told him I'd forge a blade to show him how. Starting with a 1/2" (13mm) round bar about 3 feet long (it was handy):

Heat 1) Slightly taper and point the bar under on the Nazel 1B. Dress slightly by hand.

Heat 2) Form five alternating curves over the horn of the anvil. These are in about 10" (~250mm) of length. Getting the two end curves to be on the center axis is the tricky part. Flatten under the Nazel 1B to to about 3/4" to 7/8" wide at the widest.

Heat 3) Working on the horn and flat of the anvil taper the two sides of the blade. The curvature can be readily adjusted as you work the taper. Work the inside curves on the horn, the outside on the flat alternating back and forth until it is a diamond section.

Heat 4) Finish the above until tapered to about 1/16" thick at the edges then quench.

Last - Clamp in vise and take two passes with an angle grinder to clean up and reduce the edge thickness, flip over and take two more passes producing edges.

Elapsed time, less than 15 minutes (I WAS working mild steel, and the Nazel helped a LOT).

At this point the hangabout just stood there with his mouth hanging open with a "What the HECK just happened HERE?" look on his face.

There were no more questions about forging knives that day . . . :)

That is this week's missing iForge demo, without pictures. . .
   - guru - Friday, 03/15/02 05:43:42 GMT

I am doing some background research for a project of mine.. I'd like to gain a basic survey knowledge of the materials and processes used by blacksmiths in the mid-middle ages from about 1000 to 1300. In particular, I am interested general information on how ore was mined, the smelted and smithed (and whatever else it is you do to this stuff) to create various tools.
I'm also interested in more specific information about all different types of tools, and in particular, weapons (hand weapons and missile weapons), that were being used in this time period, and the characteristics and differences between them (names what they were used for, what they looked like, how heavy [like i hear about "bastard swords" and "long swords" and im not really sure what any of this is about]). I was hoping to find a nice internet site on this weapon stuff, but I really have not been able to find anything.
At the moment, I know about nothing. Any basic information or pointers you could give me on these two topics would be greatly appreciated. =D
   Aaron W. LaFramboise - Friday, 03/15/02 08:37:31 GMT

Early Metalwork: Aaron, The actual tools and methods of the smith have not changed for over a thousand years. take away modern tools like oxy-acetylene, arc welding and anything that operates by a small electric motor and you get very close to 1000AD. The other major difference is that iron and steel became more and more plentiful and cheaper over time. Early tools and anvils were smaller and lighter the farther you go back. Big anvils were rare or represented a life time's investment. See the suggested references in our Getting Started article for the basics.

The following are some of the oldest available references on metalwork.

On Diverse Arts by Theophilus, (ca. 1100) © 1963,1979 Cyril Stanley Smith; Dover Publications, NY; LoC 78-74298, ISBN 0-486-23784-2 (posted by Atli) Includes early methods in detail.

Agricolas, DeRe Metalica (1556 AD), Translated by Herbert Hoover (yes he was a US president). A Dover reprint. Primarily about the "extractive industries" mining and processing metals.

Frank Turley has mentioned The Armourer and His Craft, has a shop inventory from 1514, The book is a Dover reprint first published in 1988 and written by Charles FFoulkes.

Diderot's Encylopedia of Trades and Industry, (~1770) Dover Books, is a catalog of illustrations of French industry of the time. Many of the scenes are not that much different than from Agricola some 200 years prior.

And then there are more recent works.

Pioneer Ironworks by Mary Stetson Clark is basic or children's book about the Saugus Ironworks near Linn Massachuettes. Although this is a Colonial Era (1700's) ironworks it is still very similar to those from hundreds of years prior.

I'm sure Thomas Powers and Bruce Blackistone can add to this brief bibliography.

There are many armor sites on the web. Start on our Armory page or our Web-Ring Nexus. There are several web-rings dedicated to armor and they cover most of the popular sites.
   - guru - Friday, 03/15/02 17:02:14 GMT

Keeping metal "natural"---the *best* method would be a thick gold plating---say 1/16th inch, the surface would be a natural metal and would not rust. Would you like to hear some "good" ways as well? Powder coating by a profesional shop comes to mind. Forging stainless steel with any needed passivation afterwards, (though my 440C eating knife hasn't rusted in the last 15 years even in the dishwasher)

You basically need to prevent water from penetrating the finish and that's pretty tough to do.

Arms & Armour 1000-1300, Are you interested in only what was worn in China or do you have any interest in what was used in Europe? You didn't say; but I'm guessing you wanted europe---well the armour part is pretty easy as it was maille, maille and more maille 1000-1300 from 1300-1400 they went from pretty much all maille to complete plate armour. Swords went form the fairly short parallel sided blades of the late dark ages to the long tapered swords of the 1300's (plus maces, crossbows, etc)

May I commend to you attention "Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight", "Medieval Warfare", pretty much any good book on the Crusades (smack dab in the middle of your period) www.arador.com and www.armourarchive.org are good forums to discuss this the armour part on (note english spelling of armor---armour, you might try it on websearches)

Now on the mining and smelting part you will have to dig deeper as much of that is not easily available---though note during those years a blacksmith would *buy* their iron/steel just like they do today. Anyway I'd suggest you read "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" do a websearch on Bloomery (discard anything to do with florists); do a search on "Wrought Iron" and look for the sites on historical metalworking, look up blister steel, pattern welding, etc. Look for anything by R.F.Tylecote, Cyril.S.Smith, Alan Williams all metallurgists who published on the history of ferrous metal technologys. And try to ask more detailed questions---what was the effect of the catalan forge on patternwelding? When was wrought iron drawn into wire? etc We'll argue about them but they help focus the research!

BTW; reading Tylcote lately and he mentions a roman anvil found that weighed over 100#!!! compared to that 13# migration era one...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/15/02 17:38:46 GMT

Shoot I forgot to mention the Ironmasters Conference in Athens Ohio the end of April and the Medieval Metals Conference in Kalamazoo MI the first weekend in May. I hope to make both of them!

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/15/02 17:41:02 GMT

Natural Finishes Wendy, Sorry I missed your question. Thomas's answer is a start.

The only "natural" finish for iron is rust. And it will eventualy rust to dust, besides staining everything it is attached to.

Iron and steel must be either painted using a multi coat process or plated using a multi layer process. Clear finishes generaly absorb moisture (Polycarbonates are the worst), and allow rust to occur UNDER the finish.

If you are talking about forged ironwork and want that "natural" blue grey scale finish then forget it. Its going to rust no matter what you coat it with.

As Thomas mentioned, the ironwork can be forged from stainless. It gets the same blue grey scale but where it is thin, scratched or wears off it will not rust. See my article about my stainless door latch on our 21st Century page. After more than 25 years exposure to rain, hand salts and high humidity (its on the front door of a Grist Mill), it is showing the faintest "foxing" of rust here and there. If I wax it the rust will darken and it will be good for another 25 years.

Note that stainless manufacturers do not recommend leaving the black scale finish on the metal. However, it DOES work.

"Natural" finishes on forged ironwork are generaly hand rubbed wax finishes. They do not completely stop rust but will maintain a "patina". However, depending on the environment they must be maintained. That IS, contantly rewaxed and ocassionaly stripped of the old wax and refinished again.

Carefully clean and wax your steel bathroom fittings once a week and you will never notice any rust.

   - guru - Friday, 03/15/02 19:31:23 GMT


Kayne & Son's

New On-line Catalog with Shopping Cart System
Many new items. Check it out!
   - guru - Friday, 03/15/02 19:39:31 GMT

Re: Finishes for steel. I recently need some vivid colors on some small (2.5 inch) "flower Blossoms" that I forged. I bead blasted them clean of scale, heated to 450F in my wifes toaster oven then sifted on a heavy coat of powder coating powder. Put them back in the toaster oven for 5 minutes and voila. OUTSTANDING color and finish. It may not be "authentic" blacksmithing but they sure are pretty. Kinda made a mess of the wifes toaster oven though. Oh well, thats the price of progress I guess.
   bbeck - Friday, 03/15/02 22:36:59 GMT

Can anyone tell me what the going rate is for a handmade metal fence per foot. 4 foot high with a 4 foot gate?
L Stoner
   Lyle Stoner - Saturday, 03/16/02 00:02:07 GMT

"Going Rates" Lyle, it depends on how complicated the rail. $50/foot is common but a gate will be double the per foot rate to as much as the customer can aford to spend.

"Handmade" can vary from "not of the shelf" and arc welded (a fabricated fence) to "fine art".

A friend of mine bid $100/foot on a fancy railing (total $20,000) and could not complete the job because he underbid by 1/5. Try to tell someone a set of curved rails with scrolls and icanthus leaves is going to be $400 to $500/foot. . . But it is what the bid SHOULD have been.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 00:50:23 GMT

Thomas writes of an upcoming event in Kalamazoo in May. Where can I get more info on that? I'm from Kalamazoo! Now I live north of there 50 miles and would like to attend that event. Any info would be appreciatted.

   Bob Harasim - Saturday, 03/16/02 01:49:39 GMT

A builder friend of mine pays $90.00/ft for pipe railing. Forged railings should start at $250./ft at least. Stairs or curves much more. Guru has said it more than once and I agree, don't forget the cost for the finish. It can be much more labor intensive than you think. I have my outdoor stuff powder coated and then I put a dry brush finish on top of that. Big difference.
   - Pete-Raven - Saturday, 03/16/02 02:41:33 GMT

Thanks for the answers to my question about keeping steel natural and preventing rust although I guess I wasn't completely clear with my question. I have been grinding off the scale, or at least using a metal brush to get the scale off, but I guess what I am mostly interested in is keeping the natural metal color and not having to cover it with black paint. If I use multiple coats of a clear acrylic that is not a polycarbonate about how many coats will I have to use, and is there perhaps a steel colored spray I could use that would give the illusion that I have used a clear spray? Is it better to spray the paint on or is a brush on paint perhaps more effective? Any brands that you prefer or can recommend? I have made a few things out of stainless and i have not treated them with anything and so far they are o.k. Was this the right thing to do, or should I have treated them with something? Also what about a clear coat used for automobiles, has anyone tried that with any success? And last but not least what type of wax do you use on your stainless, and can you weld stainless as you would steel? Thanks for your help. I will check out your article about your stainless door latch!
   Wendy - Saturday, 03/16/02 03:14:32 GMT

Guru, I would like to bend 3/4 inch K copper ridgid pipe. I need to bend some of these on a 24 inch radius. Is there a good or better way to anneal and then bend without loosing too much shape? thanks, Scott
   Scott Vickrey - Saturday, 03/16/02 07:14:55 GMT

Just checked out the new Kayne site for a sec....Hot Job Jock! Very clean, informative and accessable....Will spend more time there after a brief negotiation with the wife.
One of the items listed is an "anvil devil".
I've made a couple for various specific applications, not knowing that they were considered an official "tool".
So , what are the traditional uses of an anvil devil? And what are the variations?
Round 2...
Help please ( again already) ,on a problem you helped with before and I apparently didn't understand well enough.
I thought that when i tightened up the slop in the shafts for the short reach hold downs made for the Acorn table that I would be able to use them to clamp set-ups down good and hard with a few whacks of a 10# sledge. So I fired up the MIG and welded fill-in strips on the hold down shanks, leaving about 1/8 " slop in the fit up. But the ones that reach less than a foot or so still tend to pop out under load or vibration when they set satisfactorally at all.
I remember you said a 14* angle was the sticking point but I guess the furry visualization in my grey head wasn't putting the 14* in the right place. Sigh..so, a diagram please, so as to know just which angle needs to be 14* measured from where to where. Sorry to be slow and appreciate your patience.
   Pete F - Saturday, 03/16/02 08:18:13 GMT

I was given a 20 inch cement saw blade and was woundering what the steel is? If you could help me? on the face of the blade is W3-315-NWN, 30621401 WALL SAW, 770513. I am hoping that I can use it to make knifes. The thickness is about 3/16ths.
Thanks for the help
DT Heiner
   dt heiner - Saturday, 03/16/02 14:46:03 GMT

Greetings Guru ('s)
I'm thinking about silverplating some small copper leaves. Is this something that I could think about tackling in a home shop?
If it is feasble to do at home, any suggestions where to start looking for information on how?
thanks, Jim
   Jim, - Saturday, 03/16/02 14:54:44 GMT

Jim, It is not hard to setup for small item plating. However, like MANY things it may be less expensive to go to a professional.

It has been nearly half a century since I played with plating. But here is what it consists of:

  • Tanks (probably glass).
  • Low voltage DC power supply.
  • Annodes (bars of the plating material).
  • Electrolyte (usualy an acid, HCl for silver, I think).
  • Other chemicals.

    First you must remove all scale or oxide from the parts. Copper scales AND readily oxidizes and it is very dificult to get off. Usualy a hot acid bath is used. Jewlers use something called "sparex".

    If plating steel the part is then copper flashed OR flashed AND copper plated.

    Wires are attached to the part and its put in the plating bath with the other wire attached to the plating metal ingot. DC power is applied and you wait.

    For efficiency the plating baths are often a compound of the plating metal. For exact chemicals, processes and methods you need to find a book on the subject.

    Remember, when you are finished you are going to have all kinds of nasty chemicals left over (acids with heavy metals disolved in them). Part of what you pay for when you go to a professional is their hazardous waste disposal costs. At least its not YOUR problem. . .
  •    - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 16:23:48 GMT

    Pete F. I used an anvil devil {once}. It's a little chunk of tool steel that has an equilateral triangle section. You sit it on you anvil and cut cold iron with it. Well, first, it went flying off the anvil. Secondly, it broke, because the one I bought was not tempered back enough. Sooo, I forged my own cold hardie, tempered to full blue, and dressed it to a 60 degree included angle. Works great in the hardie hole. In my humble opinion, more smiths should have more cold hardies.
       Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/16/02 16:31:27 GMT

    Cement saw blade: Dt, The body of the blade could be ANY steel or alloy steel that is stiff enough to support the teeth. Its up to the manufacturer. Only they could tell you what it is made of (if they choose).

    There are different types of these blades. Some have an edge made of soft metal with diamonds embeded in it. The soft metal (usualy a brass or bronze but can also be nickle alloy), rapidly wears away exposing new diamonds. When this edge is worn of the blade is worn out. It also has NONE of the properties that made it a cement saw blade.

    Other blades have carbide tips that are silver soldered to the steel. These are fairly obvious (the diamond edge above may not - at least after it is missing). Again its not the steel that is doing the cutting and it can be ANYTHING.

    As with all "junk yard steels", all you can do is test, test, test. You are now the metalurgist.
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 16:34:49 GMT

    Anvil Devil: Frank, maybe its a "devil" because it like to fly off the anvil and you have a devil of a time finding it. . . All I know about anvil devils is that they are a farriers tool.
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 16:38:45 GMT

    Table Hold Downs: Pete, There are two things going on in hold downs. The first is the L/D (length over distance) lock where the angle comes in. The second is spring. The L/D lock occurs between the sides of the hole and the bar in it. I THINK the angle is measured between the contact point on the back of the hole and the end of the hold down that makes contact. However, as the formula states, its length and distance in the hole that makes the angle. So clearance is also a factor but so is the shape of the hold down. Edge radius on the corners of the plate also affect the location of the contact points.

    However, L/D locks are prone to coming loose from shocks or vibration as you have discovered. That is where the spring come in. The spring in the arm of the hold down allows the arm to move some with shocks without loosening the L/D lock. If your holddown arm doesn't have some spring or is too short then they tend to work loose.

    I'll have to work on a diagram. I know how it works but the geometry eludes me now. . . I'm still recovering from staying up too late working a couple nights ago. . .
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 17:03:28 GMT

    Bending Copper Pipe: Scott, there are TWO factors in what makes pipe bendable. One is the wall thickness of the pipe. Its VERY difficult to bend if the wall is too thin. Rigid copper pipe is both work hardened to make it stiff and has a thinner wall than bendable tubing. If you heat it to anneal it it still is not designed to be bent.

    To anneal, heat to a low red (just visible in very low light) and then quench. To bend with out fill the jig must support the sides from expanding and letting the pipe colapse. For a large radius wooden jigs can be made of three boards but they generaly don't provide much side support due to the softness of the wood. To do so the middle board needs to be exactly the same thickness as the diameter of the pipe.

    You can bend up a LOT of this pipe trying to do somehing it was not designed to do. . bend.
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 17:13:19 GMT


    I am tgard at usa.net

    I hope you can help. I found you on the internet and it seems you are possibly the best source for some guidance, info, and/or advice.

    About twenty five years ago I purchased a watchband that was made by a prison inmate. It is stainless steel and has carvings or stampings on it. It has initials and a leaf design. It is a solid piece of SS with the soldered pieces to retain the watch by the original watch pins. It is about one inch wide and one eighth inch thick. My wife has worn it for several years. A couple of years ago she decided she would like to make one or two more bands like this one. She has been unwavering in this desire but we can't find any info on this craft or tools to work with. Since it was done by an inmate I feel certain only simple tools were used to produce this band.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, tgard at usa.net

    Dr. t

    May the happiest day of your past be the saddest day of your future.

    Create your future.... NOW!

    Resource Options, INC.
    H. Thomas Gardner, MS, DCH ©
       Dr. T - Saturday, 03/16/02 17:29:53 GMT

    Jim - It really isn't that difficult to do rudimentary silver plating at home, ( a car battery, an old aquarium and lots and lots of moving fresh air) but it is more difficult to do a truly professional job of it. One of the factors involved in the quality of the plating job, in addition to what Jock already mentioned, is that periodically during the plating process, the current flow needs to be reversed for a period to "plate off" some of what has been deposited. This is to avoid pitting, craters and unevenness in general. There are two fundamentally different types of plating baths for gold, one of which is incredibly toxic (containing sodium cyanide) and the other is explosive (contains mercuric oxides). Silver plating baths are somewhat safer...somewhat. All plating baths are metallic salt solutions and, therefore, toxic.

    If you really want to try it for yourself, there are formulae and instructions in the following books:

    Metal Techniques for Craftsmen by Oppi Untracht. (The best)
    Creative Casting by Shar Choate
    Silversmithing by Robert Von Neumann

    One thing to remember always, is that no amount of plating will make a bad surface good. What you get out of the plating bath is a direct reflection of the effort that went into finishing the base metal before it went in the bath. "Putty and paint will make it what it ain't, but plating just makes shiny silver mistakes"
       vicopper - Saturday, 03/16/02 17:52:34 GMT

    Dr. T - I would guess you are correct in that the tools used were relatively simple, as well at the techniques. See the post above for a list of reference books which should have the information on the generall processes involved. Probably the pieces were silver soldered together and mainly worked with simple punches and files, perhaps a simple hand graver as well. It is also possible, even likely, that the band is made of nickle silver rather than stainless steel. Visually, there isn't much difference between the two and nickle silver is much easier to work with. Oppi Untracht's book has information on both metals and all the techniques needed.
       vicopper - Saturday, 03/16/02 17:58:22 GMT

    Natural Finish??: Wendy, You are still not being clear. LOOSE scale can be wire brushed off but not not all the tight scale. Well, maybe, if you are using a very aggressive powered brush. A bright finish must be plated to stay bright and metalic.

    Are you trying to maintain the dark blue grey oxide? THAT is scale. If you wire brush, there are also probably bright (scale free) high spots.

    Clear coats ARE paint. Home brew wax finishes are amature paint formulations. Many folks such as Pete like powder coat. But it is only good if the surface is never scratched or broken.

    Proper painting of steel for humid environments requires a corrosion resisting plan. Starting with clean metal it is either hot dip galvanized or cold galvanized with pure zinc powder paint ("zinc rich", and zinc chromate are fools terms used to sell amature products).

    The galvanizing provides a sacrificial substance (the zinc) that if the finished is scratched, it is self healing. When wet the zinc disolves and plates the bare steel helping to reduce corrosion. Zinc chromate does this too but only if carefully applied in the correct manner. A little bit in primer does nothing.

    The hot dip galvanizing must be etched before painting. It is better than cold galvanizing but then there is the cost and inconvienience of etching. Over the zinc goes a "neutral" primer. This is usualy red oxide or graphite filled (black) primer. It is chemicaly neutral so it doesn't react with the zinc or the top coat. Then a top coat is applied of any good paint you chose. Epoxies are the best but a pain in the neck. . Over a good hard top coat you can apply any kind of hand rubbed or artistic finish you want.

    Silver or metalic gunmetal blue partialy covered with hand rubbed on flat blue black can be used to emulate fresh forged. Artistic finishes can also be applied by spraying. I always used my full size spray gun for jobs that an air brush was designed for.

    I've said this over and over. If hollywood can make wood and plaster look like chrome or wrought iron, why can't blacksmiths make iron look like iron?????

    The finish is half or more of the job. I preferred DuPont automotive lacquers for fine finishing but all paints have gotten weird in the past couple decades. I still use their primers but often use cheap exterior enamels for a top coat. But if I was looking for metalic colors I would go with DuPont acrylic lacquers.

    Bare forged stainless works fine. Any wax will do to darken the color and help shed water. A flat clear coat would not hurt if you are a worrier. Where rust stains occur on stainless it is where scale from carbon steel has contaminated the surface OR carbon steel particles have become embedded in the surface. Be sure to clean you hammer and anvil before forging stainless and ALWAYS use a stainless steel wire brush. Brushing stainless with a carbon steel wire brush is the most common mistake in finishing stainless.

    If you were really annal about forging stainless you would use stainless tools. . . Industry doesn't bother because they "passivate" by using a high strength etch to disolve off the scale and any free iron on the surface.

    I used to use a home brew of beeswax and turpentine but it attracted dirt (and bees). Now I use Bowling Alley wax. Kayne and Son sell two paste waxes that they use on their own work and recommend to others. I think one is "Butchers Bowling Alley Wax". Very similar to what I have I expect.

    I also used to paint fireplace tools with high temperature paints. The problem is that the good high temperature paints are mostly graphite. Over a period of years the carrier all evaporates and you have tools with a chalky graphite surface. Customers do not like black graphite stains. . . So now I would use two different paints on each tool that is expected to be exposed to high temperatures.

    Painting and finishing takes thought and has costs. Most do not want to think about it and rarely have the cost in their budget. Yes, our "tradition" is to wipe with wax and out of the shop it goes. But that is a bad tradition.

    Stainless can be welded like steel but forge welding is difficult. Bladesmiths do it all the time when making laminated steels. To weld stainless you need a more aggressive flux than borax. Most add 5 to 10% flourite (flourspar) powder. Flux grade flourite powder can be purchased from pottery suppliers. See our link to Kickwheel Pottery Supply. When forge welding stainless you need to start with a bright surface (grind the scarf) and flux before it scales. I've never done it but I know it can be done.

    In decorative work I would arc weld a properly designed joint, wire brush off the scale THEN dress by forging. If you want it to look forge welded never grind to finish. The grinding always shows, even after forging.

    Arc welding rods for stainless have the same flourite in them.
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 18:16:49 GMT

    Prison Workshops: Dr. T, Many prisons have complete metalworking shops and at one time blacksmithing was taught in some.

    The metal may not be stainless. It may be monel. Monel is a silver colored nickle copper alloy. Some grades are relatively soft and workable (compared to stainless). Bright monel is very difficult to tell from stainless by color. If stamps were used repeatedly on the surface of your band I would suspect monel rather than stainless.

    Working stainless is not very different than working other steels except that it work hardens rapidly and is abrasion resistant making it hard to polish. Although it is not as strong as plain carbon steels it is very tough to cut (saw drill, file, machine). These difficulties make the labor in working much higher than steel. As a matter of fact, stainless jewlery is more expensive than silver jewelery due to the much higher labor costs. Silver is soft, easy to polish and current prices are low.

    I would have to see the item but it is common to use decorative leather punches on soft metals (monel, "nickle silver", silver). They can be used on hot steel and stainless but it is very hard on the punches.

    General metalworking techniques apply. Either jewlery books or courses or blacksmithing. The big difference being that the smiths learn to make their own tools including custom punches.
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 18:38:48 GMT

    Comment on Copper Leaves: It might be more econommical to make them out of silver to start. . .
       - guru - Saturday, 03/16/02 19:34:01 GMT

    I'm writing a paper on old time blacksmithing. Where did they get there material from and in what form? What was the procedure for manufacturing items from these forms? Time required? Heat sources? Tools? Thank you.
       Roger - Saturday, 03/16/02 22:03:10 GMT


    Would you like us to write the paper for you? You're asking for information that could take years to collect in every detail, and most of the details have been lost in the midst of time.


    Which old time? In what part of the world?

    Do some reading. The guru will suggest a list of books and a couple of the other guys will probably chime in as well.
       Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 03/16/02 23:01:39 GMT

    Thanks so much for all your info. I consider myself a seasoned beginner who is beginning to get the idea that there is alot more to all this than I expected, but I definetly am for dispensing of any tradition that is going to mean all my hard work has rusted to dust before I retire! It seems like the expense would be worth it if it means high quality work and satisfied and return customers! Can you give me a brief synopsis of what is required for "hot galvinizing" and is the difference in the quality from the cold galvanizing great or can I get away with cold and produce a lasting product? Also with all the layers of treatment on outside product will I maintain enough detail of leaves, etc.. I use a propane forge so I have not yet learned how to forge weld, but I thought an alternative to loosing detail in my leaves would be to t least forge them for my outside produts out of stainless, I usually tack weld them and wrap the stem, so I am glad to know I could do that. Do you think for items in the bathroom I might be able to get away with cleaning the metal well and using the automotive primer or should I go through the same process as the outdoor items? Thanks again for the tips!
       Wendy - Saturday, 03/16/02 23:31:23 GMT


       MARC MAZEROLLE - Sunday, 03/17/02 01:28:37 GMT

    There was a smithy (blacksmith shop) at the historical village at King's Landing near Fredericton, New Brunswick. the smith may still be there. It's worth a look on the net. Don't quit your day job just yet.
    Good luck,
       slag - Sunday, 03/17/02 02:56:21 GMT

    Is there a specefic formula for figuring how much material to add when making a 90 degree bend over the edge of the anvil. Seems that I have read this somewhere, but can't recall. By the way, I got great service from the on-site metals folks. Thanks.
       Brian C - Sunday, 03/17/02 03:21:57 GMT

    A friend of mine just gave me a small Sears and Roebuck lathe, Model No. 109.0702. Can you suggest some books for a beginning machinist and maybe a source for an operations manual?

       Ron - Sunday, 03/17/02 04:00:47 GMT

    I have a question about finishes. Could you tell me how you get the clear but colored or staind look on a piece. I'm looking for greens, blues whatever. And also the clear coating that is used. I'm interesed in furniture. This information would be very useful
       Alex Belichick - Sunday, 03/17/02 04:49:22 GMT

    Silver Plating,
    Thanks for the info,
       Jim. - Sunday, 03/17/02 05:16:39 GMT

    Corner allowance Brian, Each 90° bend takes 1/4 material thickness. If you bend a square with four corner bends or a circle it takes 1 material thickness.
       - guru - Sunday, 03/17/02 05:32:06 GMT

    Small Lathe: Ron, I've got one of those little 6" Craftsman Lathes. If you decide to get rid of it please let me know.

    These machines were manufactured for Sears by Atlas-Press or Atlas-Clausing until the 1970's. They made 6", 8", 10" and 12" models. The 6" models never had a quick change gear box but the larger models did. The early 6" Craftsman lathes like mine had plain bronze bearings and the later ones has Timken bearings and sported a decal stating so.

    When Sears stopped handling these tools in the 1970's they also dropped ALL support. They had been carrying lathes since before WWI.

    In 1976 Atlas started a direct mail order business. They redesigned the head stock to a "modern" rectangular type with a very poor open back design. Later they converted this bad design to to worthless one by going from cast iron to a flimsy zinc casting. Their current web site has no information on these late lathes and I don't know if they still make them.

    A few of the new parts were interchangable but were cheapened. Plastic gibs were another huge failing along with the cheapend headstock. These late 6" lathes had a 1-10 spindle but the old models had a 1-8 so chucks are not interchangeable.



    The old Sears lathes were standard engine lathes. Any old lathe manual applies. The South-Bend book "How-to Run a Lathe" is the right period and still available.

    If you have any specific questions I've been using one of these lathes for 40 years. . .

       - guru - Sunday, 03/17/02 06:27:49 GMT

    Thank you Frank, Guru. Appreciate the hard won knowledge. I will Keep my heavy hardy happy and cold in the shop fridge with the beer (G) A cold cut hardy is a fine idea, will do.
    Hold downs; I sort of figgured that the bottom edge of the hold down hole is critical..it seems when that edge is radiused or when I run into one of ridges on the underside of the platen that make the hole deeper, in effect, that it doesn't hold as well. There are 3 points of contact. The work, the far edge of the top of the hole and the near edge of the bottom of the hole. On the big rebar hold downs, had to grind off the raised ridges on the back side of the verticle shaft to get them to lock at all. I assumed that some texture on the inside of the shaft is beneficial.
    Tried tightening up the angle of the hold down bend on the shorties too, if it helped, it wasn't much.
    Wendy: May I suggest silicon bronze...It is a pleasure to work, produces a classy product and the finishing time saved pays for the material.
    Marc; I'm sorry, but you are simply way too old..
       Pete F - Sunday, 03/17/02 06:58:07 GMT

    Ron: Go here to get good general machinework information.
    it is the US army machinist circular.

    here is a set of notes on restoring a lathe (diferent brand)

    Here are more useful stuff (thew tree workshop links especially). http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~chrish/homepge2.htm

    As for other lathe information ask specific questions and i will try to help.
       OErjan - Sunday, 03/17/02 15:30:15 GMT

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