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 18 - 23, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Marc - I know some people who say it's never too late to start anything you're interested in. I don't have much experience in making forges, though i'm sure you can find instructions on this site. As for anvils - a section of railroad is usually suggested for those who can't get an anvil. A couple books you might want to look at : The Art of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer(now at amazon.com for $9.00), New Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews, and The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander Weygers. These are good books, but I have learned more from watching actual people so you might want to look around your area for somone to learn from. Also - one small tip - I wouldn't start right in with knifemaking - you might want to start with basic skills in controlling the steel (tapers, scrolls etc.) Although maybe some more experienced people here might disagree.

Good luck!

   abe - Monday, 03/18/02 00:37:51 GMT


I am in the process of making a Japanese sen, just to see how effective they are in shaping forged and annealed knives. I have a piece of 52100 which I forged to shape and annealed yesterday, ready for rough finishing and heat treatment. My questions are:

1. How should I heat treat the sen. I want it to be very hard in order to do the job. I was thinking of edge quenching in water and then a light temper. What do you think? Can 52100 be water quenched for extra hardness.

2. Do you know what angle bevel I should use on the cutting edge, given that it will be scraping steel.

3. I imagine the japanese grind a hollow underside on their sens, to help in flattening the bottom. Is this correct. I have never actually seen a sen in the flesh, so to speak.

Thank you in advance for any information.

Garry J.
   Garry J. - Monday, 03/18/02 02:10:22 GMT

Pete, Thanks for the suggestion. Does silicon bronze require waxing and can it be worked in a propane forge? Where can you buy it? I plan on asking my steel supplier tomorrow but in case that falls through... Completely unrelated question..are there any health insurances out there that cater to blacksmiths and their families?...I know this is probably a long shot but I am hoping to drop a day at work soon and add a day to my shop schedule but to do so I have to come up with an insurance alternative. Marc, I agree with Pete, you are ancient. If however you were a woman you could consider getting into blacksmithing at as late an age as say 40 which is about when I started 2 years ago. If you love it you can swing a hammer till you drop I imagine, at least that's my plan...
   Wendy - Monday, 03/18/02 02:43:38 GMT

Silicon bronze has a warm copper color and can be finished in a wide variety of ways...look up bronze patinas ( a whole wide color spectrum) Even no finishing looks good after a few months and it thrives on damp environments. Yes, a gas forge works fine...the trick is to not get it too hot...no hotter than a barely visible red...you will be able to feel and hear when it stiffens up enough for a reheat. It takes surface detail cold splendidly.
We agree that it is too bad that Marc is so far over the hill, he might have done pretty well otherwise, being a chef and all...he already works with heat, timing, and aesthetics. There are some insurance co ads in the Anvil's Ring.
   Pete F - Monday, 03/18/02 07:27:43 GMT

I wonder if anyone can tell me what kind of steel the strap that holds bundles of steel together in shipping is made from, or can give a source of information that I can contact to find out.

My steel supplier tells me that it is high carbon, but couldn't give me anymore information than that.
First I did try the spark test, but to be honest I'm not very good at judging it. I then did a quench test on the packing strap, and it does harden. So I know for sure that it is a carbon steel.

The reason that I'm asking is that I read an article in an older copy of "Blade" magazine that suggested using it as a component in pattern-welded steel.

I did try this and it worked well. By combining it with bandsaw (L6) I was able to start with a high layer count (50-75) for the beginning weld. The resulting billet does harden in oil and when etched produces good contrast.

I would just like a little more info on what I'm working with so when I'm asked what is in my blades I can give them an answer.

Thanks in advance
   Packing strap for pattern welded steel - Monday, 03/18/02 10:21:23 GMT


"Swing a hammer till you drop"

A year or so ago, one of my kids said, "Dad, when are you going to retire?" I responded "On the day your mother finds me slumped across the anvil dead!" And my wife added, "Please try to fall away from the fire."

Shop till you drop he**! SMITH till you drop!

Marc, I started playing with fire when I was five years old. Did very little with it most of my life. Came back to the anvil when I was 51. What are you worrying about, c'mon, get dirty! (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 03/18/02 14:37:48 GMT


Drilling Question: I was trying to drill holes in a piece of mild steel forged down to about 1/8" thick last night, and I ran intto an odd problem. The first 3 went fine but on the last one (why is it ALWAYS the LAST one??) the end of the bit started to glow, and quick seperated from the shaft. This was first time I had used this one, and it was a brand new Bosch cobalt bit. I knocked the tip of the bit out of the steel, and tried again with another bit of the same size. The same thin happened! I ended up just punching the hole, which worked fine.

I'm not sure what I am doing wrong here. As I said, the first 3 went flawlessly. Oh, and the press was set for 2100 RPM, which is what was listed for 1/8" mild.

Second Question: What do you recommend as a coating for tools fireplace tools that will be exposed to heat? A few posts back you stated that you used 2 different paints, but I' not sure I understand. I would think that a shovel isn't going to get too hot, so it's really just a poker and tongs that you need to worry about, right?

Last question: Is a wire/clear rustolem finish acceptable for a piece that will live inside in a dry area, like spice rack? I'm using a propane forge, so I think I have sommewhat fewer aggressive things coating my steel, and I wipe the pieces down with mineral spirits before coating.


   - Jim - Monday, 03/18/02 16:20:12 GMT

Garry - Check out this page on Don Fogg's site:


Then, spend some time on the rest of the site, you won't be disappointed.

Packing - Strapping steel works about like 1090. I attended a class put on by Klaus Duebbert in which I learned to make a pattern-welded billet out of strapping and strips of mild steel in a hand-cranked coal forge. It was so easy that I, as a raw beginner, came away with a roughed out knife blade without any welding flaws before lunchtime.
   Ron Holcomb - Monday, 03/18/02 16:44:29 GMT

Guru, OErjan, Paw Paw - Thanks for the direction on the lathe. It looks like I have a Dunlap - Sears model. No gears in the head, just a step-pulley. I found pictures of one just like mine here:


I now have plenty of information to chew on. When I come up with specific questions, I'll be sure to post them. Oh, here's one: How much horsepower do I need to run this machine? I saw 1/4 and 1/3 hp motors on the two examples I found so far. Would more be advisable?
   Ron Holcomb - Monday, 03/18/02 16:51:32 GMT

Old Days Smithing; Prior to the Hittites learning how to smelt iron most of the iron was gotton from meteorites, often worked cold with stone anvils and hammers. King Tut was buried with an iron dagger and a set of miniature iron tools; is 3000+ years old enough for you? Or were you interested in Colonial America; or the 1800's

Without more info (how high is up?) I'd suggest:
"Practical Blacksmithing" Richardson 1880's-1890's
"Diderot's Encyclopedia" Late 1700's
"Mechanicks Exercises" Moxon late 1600's/early 1700's
"De Re Metallica" middle of the 1500's
"Pirotechnia" Biringuccio, middle of the 1500's

In general a smith would buy his metal either from the people who smelted it or from a middleman/importer. This holds true back till about 1000 AD, earlier some would smelt their own metal but most would buy it---iron/steel has been a trade good from the beginning of the iron age!

For more info on American Colonial ironmaking/working "Ironworks on the Sagus" would be informative also any works put out by Williamsburg.

The internet is a lousy place to do in depth research; get some pointers and go to the library and *dig*!

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/18/02 17:04:34 GMT

Banding "Packing strap": Dave, Banding comes in a great variety of steels. Some is relatively low carbon too soft for knives. There is also "high strength" banding as well as stainless steel banding in "normal" and "high strength". It also comes in aluminium, plastic and fiberglass reinforced plastic.

With this wide a range and with different manufacturers you need to treat it like any "junkyard steel". It is an unknown and you must experiment with it and test, test test. YOU, become the metalurgist when dealing with scrap steels.

NEVER, take someone's word that something is XXXX type steel. Currently is is popular to call all springs SAE 5160 but springs range from mild steel to high carbon (SAE 1095) and include hundreds of alloys selected for specific characteristics by the manufacturer whom may change what they use for ANY reason at ANY time.
   - guru - Monday, 03/18/02 17:47:29 GMT

Drilling Speeds: Jim, The maximum drilling speeds for any metal assume clean annealed material and plenty of lubricant. They also assume a positive feed rate. At high speed if you pause for a millisecond you work harden the surface and then melt and rub material from the drill into the surface. Since HSS is air hardening you then have VERY hard steel (often harder than the drill) where you originaly had mild steel.

When drilling forged work you are dealing with a surface that may have absorbed carbon from the fire, definitely has a layer of hard scale AND may have been quenched in fluid OR between cold hammer and anvil. Water is not the only quenchant. Anything that cools the steel fast enough, may harden it.

SO, Now that I've re-read your question as I looked up the speeds and feeds. You gave the material thickness twice but not the drill size. The 2100 RPM in mild steel is the maximum for a 3/16" (3.175mm) diameter drill bit, NOT 1/8" thick material.

The RPM is determined by the speed in surface distance per minute. In the US we use Feet per Minute. That is calculated at the edge (diameter) of the drill bit. As the bit increases in size the distance traveled per turn (surface distance per minute) increases. The bigger the drill bit the slower it needs to turn.

Drill Size HSS Al, Brass
300 FPM
Mild Steel
100 FPM
Drop Forging
60 FPM
Tool Steel
50 FPM
1/8" (3.175mm) 9170 3056 1830 1528
3/16" (4.76mm) 6112 2037 1210 1019
1/4" (6.35mm) 4585 1528 915 764
5/16" (7.94mm) 3660 1222 732 611
3/8" (9.53mm) 3056 1019 610 510
Machinery's Handbook based on recomendations of the Cleveland Twist Drill Co.
Copper alloys require different clearance than iron alloys.

As I mentioned, the above is a maximum recommendation for high production under the best circumstances. Note the reduction for forged steel. Up to a point the slower you run your drill bits the longer they will last. I generaly use half the recommended speed and even less than that if the machine I am using is not in the best condition.

The maximum recommendation is for a very stiff machine tools like milling machines and heavy duty drill presses. Common drill presses with lightly supported tables are NOT a stiff machine tool. Even on my big back geared 21" drill press the column and table spring. This says "reduce" the speed. The bigger the drill and the more feed pressure it needs to more the machine needs to be slowed down proportionately. . . Almost all hand held drills are the worst of conditions and only the slowest are suitable for drilling steel (even with small drills).

Every metalworker including blacksmiths need a copy of MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and they need to study it. Speeds and feeds are a critical subject anytime you make chips. Don't just use the charts, read the text that explains them.
   - guru - Monday, 03/18/02 18:51:17 GMT

Fireplace Shovels: When wood is used to heat using either a fireplace or a wood stove it is very common to shovel out a considerable amount of glowing coals along with hot ash. My shovels have been too hot to handle many a time when we heated with wood. Steel buckets and a safe place to put them while the coals cool is important too.
   - guru - Monday, 03/18/02 19:08:09 GMT

Dunlap/Sears Ron, the only time I have seen that style it was a wood working lathe. This one looks like kind of a hobbiest combination machine. I've perused Sears catalogs going well back into the 1950's and I've never seen this one. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/18/02 19:11:22 GMT

Finishing Brasses and Bronzes: These can be chemicaly finished if you want an antique patina type finish. However, in our polluted modern atmosphere the old "natural" finishes do not hold up. However, clear lacquer over either polished or patinated copper alloys holds up very well.

Bathroom articles are not just exposed to water, steam and high humidity but also to chemical cleaners, detergents and who knows what else. . There are also tremondous variables in where the item is used within that small environment. I have a little hand forged handle on a hinged window in my bathroom that has nothing more than a light wax finish over tight scale. It has held up fine for 20 years. But the base of the sheet metal shower is rusting through. Everything else metal has been replaced due to corrosion and wear.

Many smiths make fancy toilet paper holders and towel racks for bathrooms and put nothing more than a little wax on them. In many cases they hold up well.

However, corrosion is micro environment critical. An item attached to a wood surface that is relatively warm and absorbs excessive moisture may not rust for a VERY long time. But the same item attached to a cold tile wall a few feet away where there is constant condensation running off the wall onto the item as well as more condensation on the item due to it being colder may start rusting shortly after it is installed. If the tile is cleaned with harsh chemicals (typicaly bleach solutions) then that is going to add a very aggressive chlorine containing electrolyte to the corrosion problem.

Waxed items that are handled frequently often have the was spread around by contact. Faint rusting is recovered with wax and becomes unnoticable. Eventualy the item changes from a natural blue-grey scale color to a deep brown waxed rust finish. The change takes years and is impercetable unless you look for it.

But the same waxed item that has the wax rubbed off (or eaten by insects they like wax, or cleaned off) may start rusting immediately. This is much more likely if you use a coal forge as there is almost always some sulfur bearing coal plating on the piece. . .

Once corrosion starts the micro environment becomes truely microscopic. A rust spot or pit tends to rust more than the surrounding area that started rusting later or not at all. Deep pitting occurs where there are breaks in finishes. Painting over them can aggrevate the problem by causing water traps in the finish.

The point IS. Rust happens. It does not always happen the same way. What one maker may get away with another may not. You cannot predict micro environments. So, if you care about your product do the best possible job within your budget. And on large or expensive jobs consider the cost of the finish. If a good finish is a bid breaker then bid with and without finishing. Let the customer know what a good finish is.

The fact is, we have VERY LITTLE ancient ironwork. There is very little 1,000 year old iron and only rusty remants of older work. In places such as crypts in arrid countries with the dry stable conditions the ironwork has turned to dust. Most of our 200 year old public ironwork is in very poor condition unless is was very well maintained, and much that is 100 years old is in the same condition.

IF you start in this business when you are young you will probably be alive when your early work is 40 or 60 years old. What condition will it be? My oldest public work is 25 years old. It needed complete refinishing when it was 10 years old. This second, 10 year old finish, should last another 15 to 20 years (it was done right). But what then?

Think about it. Rarely will your customer care as much about your work as you do.
   - guru - Monday, 03/18/02 19:57:30 GMT

Micro Environments: The piece of public work I mentioned above is within a few feet of a busy street, about 8 feet off the ground. It is also under tall oak trees.

When I last refinished it some severe pitting had started. My original finish was not very good, I was young and stupid. I also underbid the job.

The micro environment included some things you don't often think about. It was covered with typical "road dust". This includes exhaust solids, asbestoes from brakes and general dirt. All this holds dampness. Being next to a street meant that it was also exposed to exhaust fumes which these days includes highly corrosive sulfur compounds. It was also exposed to the splash of road salt. And. . . there was the tannin (an acid) from all those oak trees.

Then there is the shape that traps small amounts of water. . .

Rain water, snow, dirt, exhaust fumes, salt, organic acids. . . high humidity and condensing conditions. Bird do?
   - guru - Monday, 03/18/02 20:38:25 GMT

Jim, I have had a piece of steel with a LARGE (1/8x1/4x1/2" 3x7x14mm)"shard" from a carbide bit as a part of it (almost in the middle of it), from some recycled stuff in the process most likely, that wrecked a CNC lathe.

Oh, And stainless steel can workharden enough to do that sort of thing aswell if you let up the preasure and alow the drill to "rub" (but you said mild right).
   OErjan - Monday, 03/18/02 21:09:57 GMT

I really appreciate the fact you are here. I'm in the process of setting up a shop, to do a variety of metal work I have about 6 years welding expierience Mig Stick and a little tig. I have aquired a Lincoln Idealarc 300/300 tig welder and would like to know where I can find more
information about this model, setting it up and running it ?
   Christopher Moore - Monday, 03/18/02 21:46:40 GMT

As in the qestion guidelines i am a "bright eyed teenager" who built a brake drum coal forge and am having fun experimenting doing projects of the iForge page. though i was wondering, i want to cast some brass and pour it into a mold. how would i go about melting the brass?
   Moe - Monday, 03/18/02 23:30:33 GMT

from reacent experance I can honistly say that drilling in stainless is a (Incert favert swear here) that stuff is such a pain I am starting to pull my beard out.
If I am ever stupid enought to design something out of S/S that need requires 200+ holes for revits again shoot me.
that said I do like the way it welds...(with an arc) nice and easy not to bad to forge it is just cuting drilling and finshing that is a pain.
christopher try contacting Lincoln they are pritty good about helping out. do a search on yahoo should be able to find them.
   MP - Monday, 03/18/02 23:44:27 GMT

Melting Brass Moe, you can do it in your forge but you need a good crucible. You can purchase relatively cheap clay crucibles from jewlery suppliers but graphite is better and will hold up better in the forge. They are generaly rated in pounds of aluminium and you want a small one to start (3-4 pounds). Crucibles are not cheap but they are a tool you must purchase. If a lid is available, get it.

The crucible is lifted out with special crucible tongs that have semicircular jaws to fit the taper (below the bilge) of the crucible. It is then transfered to a pouring shank (a long handled tool with a ring that fits below the bilge) for pouring.

These are both tools that the smith can make but require some welding at critical points. DO NOT lift the crucible by the lip with tongs or pliers.

I highly recommend the series of books on do-it-yourself casting by C.W.Ammen, "Brass Casting", "Foundryman's Bible", "Making and Using Wood Patterns".
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 02:09:30 GMT

Drilling Stainless: I've never had too much trouble with it but it IS hard on bits. And as soon as they dull a little you need to sharpen them. The secret is coolant/lubricant and feed pressure. If you are not making chips you are work hardening the surface and wrecking the drill. I didn't list stainless on my chart above but it is usualy the same or worse than drilling annealed tool steel.

For coolant I use (depending on where I am). WD-40 alternating with a squirt of oil, kerosene with some 20W oil added and applied with a brush, water with water soluable oil (if the machine has a pump and cooling system.

If you have a lot of small holes to drill ask for stub length drills. If the place you purchase drills from doesn't know what stub length drills are then you are buying drills at the wrong place.

I never needed cobalt drills except for really HARD stuff like heat treated H-13. But you DO want the best bit you can get from Consolidated or Cleveland. Most hardware store brands are JUNK. Even the ones with the fancy titanium gold plating. . . Great stuff on a GOOD bit but it doesn't make good out of bad. . .

I like stainless too, but it IS a pain to cut and finish.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 02:24:02 GMT

Guru, and anyone else with an opinion. I think I am starting to formulate a plan but am wondering if perhaps I am missing a link as all of sudden it sounds fairly "do able" and I have certainly learned over the last 2 years that every time I start telling my friend who is also a part time blacksmith... "it should be easy, I'll just..." it's been anything but easy!! Anyway I'm thinking I may try forging my outside, bathroom and food related items(such as skewers etc..) out of stainless. I learned from one of the last posts that drilling isn't easy with stainless but about the thickest I would be drilling through is about 1/4". Do you need a special drill bit? Also, I'm a little confused about the welding issue. I have a mig welder (o.k. so this one item really is my husband's but don't tell him) that I am using 25% carbon dioxide and 75% argon with a mild steel wire(.023)Can I weld the S/S with this? And you stated in you article about the door latch that you only used beeswax to bring out the shine originally. Sounds easy so I know I must be missing something... I have used stainless a bit but only to make some hooks for someone selling rabbits to local restaurants. It wasn't bad but of course the hooks were only about 1/4" S/S. Also for the things I have already constructed out of HR steel for the bathroom etc.. Should I just clean and wax it since you stated that moisture tends to get under the clear coats or is there a better alternative i.e. the whole zinc powder(does this turn the metal black?) , primer, paint thing? Also several of my items Have wrapped leaves on them for which I use an oxyacetylene torch. Will this work with stainless? if so what type tip should i use? welding, cutting, rosebud...? Also , i am doing my first juried craft show in June and have entered my media as metal will stainless be acceptable since all my pieces i entered for judging were not...Thanks a million..
   - Wendy - Tuesday, 03/19/02 02:33:19 GMT

Marc: 25 years old? Your never to old to try new things. Our local club has 3 active smiths that are 80 years old. I'm 57 and considered one of the younger members. I've met doctors, nursers, teachers, air-line pilots, etc. that do blacksmithing. Theres no boundarys. Welcome.
   dave wells - Tuesday, 03/19/02 05:28:08 GMT

How did the medevil knights shape thier armor? Where and how did they get the medal for thier armor? I'm in 7th grade and I've been looking on the internet. But I can only find how to make it today. I want to know how they did it way back then.
   Shawn - Tuesday, 03/19/02 07:08:08 GMT

Shawn: want the easy answer? The knight DIDN*T shape his armour the armourer did.

But to answer what I think you ask:
The armourer used hammers, for finishing I guess soft mallets (copper, lead, rawhide, wood…) where used.
To back the metal (striking metal suspended in the air is not very smart) anvils, stakes, bickerns and log stumps where certainly used.
The metal was bought from the bloomery and the bloomery bought the ore from the miners (or rather the OWNER of the mine),
For more details some reading is required.

The URL for Anvilfire Armoury is:

Atli recommended the Armour Archive:

And guru listed several books about halfway up the page (guru Friday, 03/15/02 17:02:14 GMT) cut some out:

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.

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

As you can see these where just on this recent part of the forum, if you go to archives and search you would get MUCH more.
And read one or several of the books mentioned for more info (and check THEIR sources and read them…).

Hope to help
   OErjan - Tuesday, 03/19/02 08:18:44 GMT

the isue with the SS was that the flat bar I am useing wasn't anealed (as I had asked for) the L angle I am useing is MUCH softer it wore the bits every 6-8 holes the flat was more every 3-4 and had an anoying habit of catching the bit on breakthrough and snaping a corner off the bit. I am useing MSC's cobalt drill's (the short ones) with the tin coating. (about $3 each) I am not so good at sharpining drills takes me about 1/2 hour to do one so I have a stack of 5or 6 waiting untill I can get over to my buddys shop and use his setup (a realy nice dimond set up) and I have anouther 3-4 that are snaped. I HATE drilling in SS.
I thought about anealing it but the parts were of a sise that wasn't realy an option and the amount of holes made spot anealing just as big a pain. the hinges that got hot forged drilled real easy though.

if your MIG is big enough I think it will work, you will need to switch to SS wire and I think go with deferant mix. best thing to do is go to your local welding saplier and ask what they sigest.
I use a 230 A/C D/C, for SS I use Stainless rod (about $10 a LB!) and had the welder set for D/C reversed polarity at about 80 amps (veried with the weld lowest was 75 AMPs and the highest was about 100)
As to the torch I would say it if works with mild it should be fine for SS the heat ranges are about the same.
most of use can't tell the diferance in some thing forged from SS and somthing forged from mild other than the Stainless wont rust so I would say that you are fine for the show.
   MP - Tuesday, 03/19/02 08:28:46 GMT

I will be moving to a new shop soon and would like to bolt some of my equipment (power hammer, anvil stands, vise stands etc) to the cement floor. (The power hammer will eventually get its own pad which will elevate it 8-12 inches from its current working height.) What methods are availabel for bolting these items to the floor so that they don't tear the bolts from the floor?
   Patrick - Tuesday, 03/19/02 13:57:40 GMT

Morning Guru, Do you know where I can get the recorded sounds of steam forgeing hammers ? A couple of years ago I heard a song with the sounds of a big hammer hitting hard and ringing loud as part of the rythum(sp) of the song. It sounded like a large steam hammer as you could hear the whoosh too.
   Old Chief - Tuesday, 03/19/02 15:55:09 GMT

I am looking for a cup makers or a goose neck anvil, any suggestions?
   Jim - Tuesday, 03/19/02 16:44:54 GMT

Armor and Methods: Shawn, you need to start at the beginning and ask, "How does the blacksmith shape metal". They heat it in a fire until it is a bright orange and beat it with a hammer while supported on an anvil. This has not changed in nearly 3,000 years. Matter of fact, bronze smiths used similar techniques (with less heat) for thousands of years prior to that. When it comes to armor the differences are even less. Raising and shaping sheet metal (plate) is very nearly the same for steel as it is for brass, bronze, copper and silver.

The methods used in the step by step article by Eric Thing about raising a helmet have not changed in 5,000 years. The only thing different is that he uses a special gas forge instead of a charcoal fire.

Even the shape of our tools has not changed. A smith's hammer has not changed radicaly in shape for thousands of years. Anvils have changed more but the primary work surfaces have not.

Modern smiths use every technical advantage they can but the basics of "heat it and beat it" are still the same.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 16:57:33 GMT

Welding Stainless: Generaly it is much cheaper to stick weld stainless than to setup your MIG unit. A full roll of wire is very expensive and duplicate gas cylinders adds to the cost. I've used AC to weld stainless with stick and got good results. You can purchase a little buzz box welder for a little more than a 40# roll of SS wire and a cylinder of gas. . . Then you have the flexibility of doing stick welding with specialty rods.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 17:35:37 GMT

Bolting to existing floors: Currently the best method for anchoring to concrete floors is with epoxy. Bolts are set directly in the concrete with epoxy which sets in minutes. However, if you want threads so you don't have to lift the machine over studs then you can set threaded anchors in the epoxy. Just be sure to grease the threads and leave space for extra bolt. I make my own anchors with Heavy Hex nuts welded to a piece of pipe.

I have never had good success with any type of expansion anchor. They rely on the hole size being just right and the concrete having the right hardness. If you drill into a rock and the drill drifts, then you have an ovesize hole and the anchor will not work. It you have old hard concrete sometimes the anchor cannot get a grip in the hard surface and it spins in the hole.

I have also had bad experiances with concrete grouts and do not recommend them for any machinery or critical anchoring.

My experiance has been that 1/4 to 1/3 of all anchors in concrete floors fail. The last job I did with expansion anchors we had three brands and two different sizes that we selected from for each hole in order to get less than a 10% failure rate.

Anchors carefully set in the concrete work best IF the concrete is carefully placed and worked around the anchors. For power hammers most plans call for the long bolt (reaching 2/3 of the way through the foundation block) to be welded to re-bar and a tube placed around the long bolt so it could be flexed around to fit the machine.

In existing concrete the best is epoxy. Leading in with lead or an expanding alloy is also very good.

Next are old fashioned lead expansion anchors (the ones with soft solid bodies). However, you need to shim these to fit snugly to the hole. Lead tape works best but you can also wrap with solder. Be sure to blow all the dust out of the hole and use the right expansion tool.

Plastic anchors work good in concrete block but we are talking about machinery in floors. .

All the rest of the patent anchors are "make do" designed for our low quality modern construction techniques. Not for anchoring machinery. They work fine where there are multiple anchors holding down a beam or plate and the expected number of failures is taken into account.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 17:59:40 GMT

Gooseneck Anvil: Jim, are you sure you are not talking about some sort of stake? Never heard of a "cup maker" either. Is it the same thing? Are we still talking stakes?

Raising stakes come in hundreds of types and many sizes resulting in thousands of choices. Centaur forge carries a few (dozens being a few in this case).

If you need something special in a stake you are best off to have a smith make it for you. Although there were thousands of choices there are few manufacturers today. Most of what is made is for jewlers and silversmiths.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 18:06:52 GMT

Thanks Guru,
Could you supply a brand name for the epoxy you mentioned? Also, you refered to welding a nut on the end of a pipe. I assume you would then epoxy the pipe into the hole in the concrete. Is this correct?
   patrick - Tuesday, 03/19/02 18:18:24 GMT

Old Chief: You could visit a construction job site where they are driving piling with a large air hammer, (the same hammer design as was steam driven) I say large air hammer as the small models hit a very rapid rate and would not replecate the sound you are looking for. Cloudy and cool NE Ind...
   Greg Dahms - Tuesday, 03/19/02 18:20:36 GMT

Epoxy Patrick, I buy whatever my local fastener supplier has.

The last I purchased was part of a system requiring a $50 "gun" to use the tandem cylinders. There was also throw-away mixer nozzels. However, this was for a large job where we were setting re-bar in bed rock for a bridge. Worked great except the guys got carried away and tried to set too many studs at once (about 8). The epoxy hardened in a couple holes before they got the studs in. Had to drill out the epoxy in those holes. It would not have been a problem if they had set the studs as they filled the holes. . . Hardening time (in the summer) was about 10-15 minutes. Epoxy is very sensitive to the ambient temperature. If I were using this type in very hot conditions I would refridgerate the epoxy to increase the working time.

I'm pretty sure there are cheaper systems. Most (real) construction supply places will have several types. Some will rent or loan the gun.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 19:44:43 GMT

Steam Hammer Music Chief, The only one I have heard was in the Bruce Springsteen Classic "Youngstown" about the closing of the mills in Youngstown, Ohio. The sound they used DID sound more like a pile driver than a steam hammer. . .

I wonder if that is the kind of sound recording the LOC or Smithsonian would have?

I know a couple local places in Virginia to get recordings of small steam hammers running. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/19/02 20:05:13 GMT

I live in the NW Pennsylvania area...60 miles north of Pittsburgh in Sharon, PA. Can you tell me if there is anyone that you know of in the area that would be able to temper steel. I am the plant manager of a plastic bag manufacturer and am looking to temper .010 carbon steel for use on a specialized bag making machine. Thank you
   Victor/Pennsak - Tuesday, 03/19/02 20:13:59 GMT

Old Chief
i have a one minute digital video of a niles-Bemont-Pond steam hammer in the 1500-2000 lb range. the hammer is being run on compressed air, not steam, but I'd be happy to email you the video. You can definitly hear what is going on, and it is a great little video to watch. The video was shot last fall at a small open die forge shop in Canton Ohio.

I would be happy to send this to you as well, and if you thought you could post it somewhere on the sight, I think many people would really enjoy it.

   patrick - Tuesday, 03/19/02 20:14:40 GMT

Knights tried not to shape their armour but did try to shape the armour of other knights. Usual tools: lance, sword, mace, warhammer, sometimes warhorse! The classic example was that of William Marshal who after winning a tournament was finally tracked down at the smithy having his mangled helmet pounded back into shape so he could remove it!

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/19/02 21:48:09 GMT

I have had real good luck with WESS SYSTEMs it is a boat epoxy (fiber glass resin tipe) it is desinged to hold the fiberglass to wood metal concret... just about any thing. they make a full line of fillers along with the 50/50 mix resin. I real like there mixing system two bottels with pumps one squert from each makes a even mix.
   MP - Tuesday, 03/19/02 22:52:32 GMT

I am slightly embarrassed to include myself in your discussion, but after hours of surfing I
feel your site may be my best option. I have what I understand to be a blacksmith vise, it
is much larger and looks different than any other I have found during my research. It is
mounted on a board and weights soooo much I dare not estimate. I am an estate
liquidator, located in northern California, this item came from a fella in his mid sixties,
who said it was his grandfathers, who was a blacksmith. I was wondering if it is in fact a
blacksmith tool, would someone still use it today or is it obsolete, and what information
you can tell me regarding who made it? The only marks are four X?s one on each leg.
The jaws do not close the last 1/2 inch, is that normal? The jaws are each 8 1/4 inches
wide and the overall heigth is 34 inches from the top of the jaw to the lowest metal leg.
http://www.calweb.com/~4mexamer/vise1.JPG Thank you, Barbara.
   Out of my league - Wednesday, 03/20/02 00:06:32 GMT

Out of my League, Yes, and the vise is beautiful, and I *want* it!! A smith can fix the jaws to close all the way. And a leg is probably missing below the pivot beam. I'm teeweld at msn.com.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/20/02 00:45:08 GMT

Identified and SOLD. That is service!

It was probably but not necessarily made in England as most of the oldest anvil manufacturers were there and they also made vises. Most US makers put their name on their vises. Similar vises are still manufactured today but they are not nearly as nice (in the eye of a blacksmith) as the old ones.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/20/02 01:11:41 GMT

Hello again, I am so grateful, thanks to all of you. Also, I now see that the jaws do close all the way, the screw part is just out of alignment with the hole, maybe because I opened it while laying sideways. The lowest leg part below what I think is the tensioner, there is wood stuck in between the metal I assume it was at one time a support leg.
   Out of my league - Wednesday, 03/20/02 02:00:49 GMT

Thanks for the info,has anyone heard of Breakthrough? It is a paint used over bare steel that is supposed to hold up fairly well outside. It was suggested to me by my blacksmithing instuctor. However it is water soluble so to me it doesn't make sense. It costs about $40 a gallon with shipping and handling so before I buy I was wondering if anyone else had used it. Also I have several items that I have already made to sell for the bathroom that I have sprayed with an acrylic clear coat. Would I be better off cleaning this off and applying bowling alley wax or should I leave the clear coat on and wax over that? I'm completely excited, my band saw and auto darkening welding helmet were delivered today, can't wait to try them! Happy hammering everyone! We haven't heard from Marc much lately, do you think we scared him off?
   - Wendy - Wednesday, 03/20/02 03:31:11 GMT

where would you recommend one go for supplies necessary to make an iron gate - looking for prefabricated components that I can weld together.
   Todd - Wednesday, 03/20/02 04:06:58 GMT

Fabricator Supplies: Todd, There are many sources, Try King Architectural Metals.


Tell them we sent you and that they should advertise on anvilfire,
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/20/02 06:12:05 GMT

Anyone in Southern Maine need someone to sweep up their shoppe or do chores for a few hours of shoppe time? I live in an apartment and don't have a place to set up shoppe. Any help networking here would be greatly appreciated!!
   Tim - Wednesday, 03/20/02 06:27:05 GMT

Water Soluable Paints: I've not heard of "Breakthrough". However, the water soluable paints used by some of the auto makers have been disasters. They were forced to use them by the EPA and they have proven not to be as good as solvent based paint.

Some water based paints create a water tight surface, however, others can absord water including environmental contaminates.

I think you have missed the point on finishes. If you want long term protection it requires a system. Zinc paint or galvanizing, neutral primer and top coat. No galvinizing is not black, galvanizing is silvery white (like new tin roofing) and the paint is flat grey. Neutral primers come in various colors but red-oxide (rust red) and flat black are the most common. The top coat can be any color you want. Colorfast exterior paints are prefered. Hard epoxies are one of the best top coats but expensive, lacquer is next followed by enamels.

There are other systems but none as durable as the above. Powder coating is good in that it is electrostaticly applied which assures coverage in places that are hard to reach. However, its protection depends on there being an absolutely clean surface to start AND there never being a break in the surface. Once there is a break in the surface the rust spreads under the finish. Zinc or galvanizing prevents this.

Automakers use thin multicoat processes on sheet metal to protect the unpainted back side. However, these require absolute cleanliness and many include equivalents to galvanizing. The best, such as the bed in my 1973 Dodge pickup was hot galvanized. Pockets in the doors and fenders where debris has collected have rusted out but bare places in the bed have not. Good galvanizing works.

Tight scale DOES protect steel. However, scale is hard and brittle. It cracks and flakes off. Coverage may not be 100%. AND once rust starts it does not offer a protective system like galvanizing does. Scale is the reason blacksmiths can generaly get away with bad finishes. But the scale covering is never perfect and rust wins over scale.

Some smiths give in entirely to rust. In some arrid climates it is a good method. The rate of continuing rust is slow enough that the work will last generations. . and there are no complaints about rust. However, in the end the rust DOES win.

A bad paint job is worse than no paint. Rust can hide under paint. I've seen old wrought iron fences and gates that were nothing but thick paint shells holding up rust. . . . Oh yeah, there was a layer of scale inside the paint surrounding the rust dust. . .

Many smiths mix linseed oil with wax and then go so far as to add a dryer. . . . READ the ingrediants in varnish! Amature formulations are for amatures. Why not buy finishes created by professionals with degrees in chemistry?

Think about metal objects in your home. How are they finished? Long life appliances like washers and stoves are commonly covered with porceline and have stainless steel or plated trim. Toasters are SS or plated inside and out. Utensils are SS, silver or plated. Brass knobs, lamps and door knobs are chemicaly finished and then lacquered. Objects that are painted were finished over clean metal that was etched and phospated to be prepared for paint. Tools (if they are first class) are copper flashed, nickle plated to prevent rust and then chrome plated because it is harder than nickle. Plain chrome plating is porus and alows rust.

Think about it. Most smiths do not. But as a group we can do better.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/20/02 07:49:46 GMT


i live in ireland and have been trying to source a supplier of seamless nikel silver tube in a range of sizes and sheet also. can you point me to a supplier "close" to me.


marty preshaw
   marty preshaw - Wednesday, 03/20/02 20:34:04 GMT

Guru, real easy question. I need to know who the smiths are that make Jew's Harps (Jaw Harp, Juice Harp, etc.) Surely there is one American hand making a quality instument. Thanks for any info you can provide. Larry
   Larry McMahan - Wednesday, 03/20/02 21:34:26 GMT

I am interested in learning about blacksmithing and believe that it would be helpful to find a local blacksmithing chapter in my area. I am located in Boise ID. I would appreciate any direction in finding a chapter in this area.


Mike Cook
   Mike Cook - Wednesday, 03/20/02 21:59:47 GMT

I am looking for Weld Test Coupons here in North Carolina.
2" sch 80
2" sch 160
sa36 1/2 plate
Thanks Bobby
   BobbyN - Wednesday, 03/20/02 23:11:08 GMT

Is there a readily available fire retardant that I can coat a canvas tarp with? It is used as a curtain around my welding table. Thanks
   Brian C - Wednesday, 03/20/02 23:19:25 GMT

Fire Retardant: Brian, Borax is used in cellulous fill insulation. Seems it would work on fabric. Wouldn't hurt to test it. If the tarp has had any water proofing then that is NOT good. Most water proofing increases flamability.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/20/02 23:33:50 GMT

Idaho: Mike, Currently there are no local ABANA chapters up there that I know of. Check the surrounding states on the ABANA-Chapter page.

No local chapter? Why not start one? Advertise on our V.Hammer-In page. Put a notice in "TheForge". Then run an ad in your local paper. You might be surprised at the turnout. If you get a group going let us know and we will setup a site for you on the ABANA-Chapter page.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/21/02 00:30:02 GMT

Looking for people that make Damascus. Thanks in advance, G
   Gail - Thursday, 03/21/02 01:30:55 GMT

Laminated Steel, AKA Damascus Gail, there are tons of folks making various types of pattern welded steel. If you are looking for a supplier try:

Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL

Daryl "grandpa" is one of the worlds premier Damascus steel makers and metalurgist to bladesmiths worldwide.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/21/02 01:48:48 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the discussion on finishes. It's not so much that I missed the point it's just that I was hoping it wasn't so complicated. Now that i've gotten over feeling overwhelmed I'll just dig my heels in and do it!! So now I'm thinking I need to buy a sandblaster. Any suggestions on the type to get?. i don't have an air compressor yet but my husband is planning on buying one and I'm sure I can weezle my way into using it. Until I get one can I use my grinder with a twisted wire brush or will I just be wasting my time? Thanks again sorry to be such a pain!
   - Wendy - Thursday, 03/21/02 02:40:17 GMT

I would argue that grandpa is the premier Damascus steel maker. that bowie with the us flags in it is .....well I wouldn't even know were to start on that I have enough problems leting the steel do it's own thing. (grin)
   MP - Thursday, 03/21/02 04:10:51 GMT

Brian C /// & Making Fire Retarding Canvas:
The following process and formula is an old method for making canvas fire resistant (that is canvas made of natural fibers like cotton, linen, and also viscose rayon.) Please note some of the synthetic fabrics are HIGHLY flammable. The method, described shortly, was recommended by the National Bureau of Standards and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, years ago.
Get seven ounces of borax, three ounces of boric acid and two quarts of hot water. Mix the boric acid with a small amount of water to make a paste. Add the boric acid paste and the borax powder to the water. Stir the mixture until the water turns clear. The water may have to be heated some to enhance the dissolving or if the solution tuurns cloudy or if it turns to a jelly-like consistency upon standing. Apply the fluid, liberally, to all of the canvas . Treat both sides. Let dry.
Please note that rainwater, or wash water will wash out the flame retarding solution. So keep the cloth away from the rain (situate it under a partial enclosure?).
If kept dry, and not washed, the coating/treatment should last about a year, then retreat the fabric.
Regards, SLAG.
   slag - Thursday, 03/21/02 04:32:18 GMT

Trying to find a source on mica ( sheet ) for lighting products - any ideas
   Butch Lee - Thursday, 03/21/02 04:53:58 GMT

Full time smith ( 10 years )in Colorado looking for source on sheet mica and alabaster for lighting products. Any leads? Many Thanks!
   Butch Lee - Thursday, 03/21/02 04:58:16 GMT

I am a journeyman medieval armorer formerly in the employ of Christian Fletcher Medieval Military in Idaho.

I have recently relocated to California (San Luis Obispo area) and would like to set up shop here, but I need to know what I can and can't get away with as far as emitting
large quantities of smoke,charcoal specifically. My preference is first for charcoal then for gas forges but I will use whatever I can get away with to get working.
Great site by the way!

Thank you.
   Nathaniel - Thursday, 03/21/02 05:03:16 GMT

A wire brush is quite commonly used for just that sort of stuff and it is economical and effective. It is also deceptively dangerous. Look in the archives for discussion on the subject!
A twisted wirebrush is aggressive and cuts fastest, kinked wire brushes are better for finishing. Ideally it is done in stages like grinding or sanding with progressively finer media. There are also a wide range of additional metal finishing techniques. Sand blasting equiptment is dictated to a great degree by the size of the compressor. Minimally, a little siphon gun can be bought for around $20...you can go way up from there.
Nathanial: As a declaired nuisance in San Luis Obispo county for a dozen years, in times past, because of my iron worshiping tendancies......first I'd say, charm everybody in sight silly....especially your neighbors! Code enforcement is primarily complaint driven in SLO county. Get yr operation in the paper ( they are hard up for material mostly, write it up for them before hand so they don't have to work...get the local TV station too. Meet your neighbors and give them little gifties that clank and make sure that they come to you with problems first. SLO has it's Thursday farmer's market and BBQ so they are used to charcoal, Just keep a rack of ribs handy. There is a romantic streak there that can be exploited to an extent. If anyone suggests industry, shake your head no and insist on art!
On the other hand, SLO drove Albert Culley, a splendid blacksmith, out of business over a long period of time by horrible petty harassment...trial by ordinance ...and have squeezed the junkyards out one by one by foul but petty means.
I think that this is a national problem potentially and a cause all of us need to pay attention to.
SLO is "nice" by means of a rather heavy hand...not anyplace for a minority transient( the constitution doesn't exist for them apparently)...oops...I'm ranting again...
Well, I'll tell you what I really think some time.
PS..I no longer live in SLO county, as you might have guessed.
   Pete F - Thursday, 03/21/02 06:47:49 GMT

Butch, Cleveland Mica co. 216-226-1360
   Tim Cisneros - Thursday, 03/21/02 06:48:03 GMT

As to ID smiths etc....
Go to the links page on anvilfire home page. Find Ron Reil and go to his web page. From there you can email him. Since he lives in Boise you can more than likely find out who else is in the area. Ron is a neat person with lots of experience in lots of fields.
   Ralph - Thursday, 03/21/02 13:08:35 GMT

Gail I know a couple of hundred people who do pattern welding (AKA Damascus Steel) and a couple who do Wootz.

Do you just want to look at them, buy stuff, commission custom items, learn how to do it what?

I'm working on a pattern welded spangen helm right now myself.

Thomas in central Ohio

Mid Ohio Blacksmiths Meeting Saturday March 23 contact me at 614-443-3200 for directions (home number call after 6pm and before 10pm EST)
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/21/02 13:56:37 GMT


When you start talking about using a twisted wire brush, I have to ask you to go to the iForge demonstration page, and READ Demo #66 - Safety I.

As an addendum to that demonstration, be advised that 19 months after that accident, I'm STILL having traumatic headaches, and have a CAT scan scheduled for the 5th of next month.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 03/21/02 14:55:12 GMT


All this talk of finishes has made me want to play with some stainless.... What is a good "starter" stainless, and what do you need to do differently in forging it?


   - JIM - Thursday, 03/21/02 20:34:10 GMT

Ok, I live in southwest B.C. Canada, and no matter where I look, coal cannot be found. However, I do have an abundance of wood. Can I use this alternate fuel or will its impurities pose too many problems. I have heard that charcoal is best, but I haven't found a realistic method for producing charcoal on an individual's scale.
   Stephan - Thursday, 03/21/02 20:55:28 GMT

Ok, I live in southwest B.C. Canada, and no matter where I look, coal cannot be found. However, I do have an abundance of wood. Can I use this alternate fuel or will its impurities pose too many problems. I have heard that charcoal is best, but I haven't found a realistic method for producing charcoal on an individual's scale.
   Stephan - Thursday, 03/21/02 20:55:41 GMT

Stephan; the neo-tribal forums have had quite a lot on charcoal making by individuals; dig a little deeper! Wood/charcoal is a very pure fuel compared to coal---*no* sulfur! Wood ash is a flux for forge welding; however the efficiency goes way up if you can use charcoal instead of wood---you're not wasting heat boiling off water and even more important *no* smoke! Ever tried cooking over a smoky campfire where the smoke was always in your eyes? Unless you have a good extraction system your forging will resemble that.

So sure you can use it; but you will enjoy it a lot more if you can use charcoal. (after all charcoal was the *only* fuel for about the first 2000 years of the iron age!)

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/21/02 21:59:09 GMT

Stephen /// No Coal
Hard wood charcoal, is a very good fuel for a forge. Indeed it was thee fuel for centuries before smiths had to switch to coal. They did so because they were running out of trees. Charcoal burns more quickly than coal. But it is a cleaner fuel. Charcoal shouldn't have any sulfur nor phosphorus to contaminate the metal which makes smithing and forge welding much simpler. Charcoal can be very expensive. But if you have access to cheap hardwood you can make your own.(living in the country is a necessity, you could not do it in the city. Lindsay Publications has a 30 page booklet, by Olson and Hicock, describing how to make a charcoal kiln. It's $3.95 U.S. (charcoal is made by heating wood in the absence of air). Hugh McDonald, a master blacksmith, states in the latest I-Forge demo ("more Tongs"), that Smiths in Western Australia smith with charcoal, almost exclusively.
Coke or coke breeze is another possible forge fuel. Coke is made by heating coal in the absence of air. You may be able to find a source of metalurgical coke near you. (for example, smiths use a lot of coke in Alberta and Eastern Australia, etc.)
Also, contact some local smiths. They may well have a source for blacksmith coal, or coke or reasonably priced hardwood charcoal.
In some areas, where there is no suitable and economic forge fuel, several blacksmiths pool their money, make as bulk order,and have several tons shipped in by truck or rail (the larger the order the better the price). Or they get a truck and drive to the supplier, load up and drive it back, where the fuel is apportioned to each smith. If none of the above fuels are available a gas forge is another alternative. Many knife makers will nothing else. I remember one smith in New Brunswick drove his truck to one particular coal seller in West Virginia, two times a year. He liked one paticular type of coal and that's what he used exclusively. He usually about five tons each run.
Hope that helps,
Regards to all,
   slag - Thursday, 03/21/02 22:02:06 GMT

I'm with Paw Paw on the wire wheel issue. Safety first and foremost. I have'nt had an accident like his, but I have been struck with a lot of flying projects. You have no way of knowing where the work is going when it comes off of that wheel, and by the time you duck or cover it's way too late (just seem's like one of those things you should do:)).
Best of luck with your work.
   Brian C - Thursday, 03/21/02 22:47:19 GMT

Charcoal Making Recipe #1 From Down Under.

First dig a big hole, or talk some of your mates doing into it while you sit back and drink a beer. Build a big bonfire in the hole. When it is going good load it up with fresh wood but not higher than the edge of the hole. Toss a sheet of corrogated steel roofing over the hole and seal the edges (with dirt from the hole). Give it a few days to cool, open and remove charcoal.

Charcoal Making Recipe #2 Suburban backyard method.

First kill a chicken. . . WHOOPs wrong recipe.. .

Find a steel drum or "burn barrel" with a snug fitting lid or make a lid to fit. The barrel should only have a few air holes near the bottom (no bigger than an inch). Build a fire in the barrel. When it is good and hot fill with fresh wood. Let that start to char then cover the top (you might need to weight the lid). Then close all but one air hole. Sheet metal and dirt do this well. Let cool for 24 hours. Open and remove charcoal.

Charcoal Making Recipe #3 Stove top (without dressing).

Fill a clean gallon paint can with blocks of wood (stick of willow if making artist's charcoal. Close lid tightly. The lid should have a nail hole to one side. Set on top of stove burner and cook. At some point the wood will burn briefly sending out a flair of flame and smoke from the vent hole. Continue cooking for about as long as it took to start burning, OR until wood gas fumes stop venting. Let cool overnight, open and remove charcoal. This method requires good ventilation and is not suitable in most modern kitchens. . Good reason for a stove in the shop.

NOTE 1: The above methods all take some practice and a little expertise but are proven methods that DO work. There are two things to watch for. A - burning up all the wood. You need to keep an eye on the venting. B - not coaling long or well enough. Save the half coaled stuff for starting the next batch. You can also put the fire out with water if it gets out of control. The charcoal still works when it dries out.

NOTE 2: Charcoal briquettes are mostly saw dust and smoke more than the real stuff. They also contain some bituminous coal (yummy).

When the Japanese Hibatchi is used for cooking with real charcoal there is very little or no smoke unless grease drips into the fire.

And speaking of grease, have you ever seen an "ecological stove" or econo-stove? Its a tall sheet metal tube with air holes in the sides at the bottom. You toss in a couple sheets of news print, light them, then set on the grill with your meat on it. The grease from the meat feeds the fire and the chared ash of the paper suports the grease fire. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it. Cooks stakes, burgers and hotdogs. They have been on the market for a long time but are hard to find. The current ad claims "computer design". . a line of BS but the product is still good. Made from a couple nesting tapered tubes it packs very compactly.

It really make you wonder about all the "charcoal" sold for back yard grills. . . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/21/02 22:51:46 GMT

OBTW - Hugh McD uses a gas forge for most of what he does but like most of us a solid fuel fire is occasionaly needed when a gas forge won't do. .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/21/02 22:54:18 GMT

Charcoal & Mr, McD.
I stands corrected.
Two more beers and I reclines corrected.
   slag - Friday, 03/22/02 02:07:29 GMT

Hi I am looking for a south bend 5 ''or 7'' bench top metal shaper a old one that is in good working condition.Can be 1930-to early 50's .Please let me know where or if any one knows of where I can find one in the USA.

   Cy - Friday, 03/22/02 07:32:17 GMT

Paw Paw (& all), Just a reminder about wearing safety glasses. I re-read your article several times Jim in the i-forge and it probably (definitely) saved my eye last week. I was building a curved railing (which was braced on the top of the layout table) and had put the cap rail(1 1/2" half round)on the top with the end sticking out at exactly eye level. A client happened to come in so I clamped the cap rail so it wouldn't fall and proceeded to start talking to the client. After the client left ( I forgot about the thing sticking out) I turned around and walked straight in to the corner of the cap rail sticking out! It hit squarely in the middle of the glass on the left side of my safety glasses! If I had not been wearing them I would have poked my eye out. I learned NEVER to walk aroung the shop without the glasses on! I sometimes used to do that but now I wear them as soon as I enter the shop and don't take them off until I close the door. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Friday, 03/22/02 14:36:14 GMT

I have used one of those newspaper burning stoves and agree that they work great, but I wonder about the chemicals in the ink rising up in the smoke and landing on your food. I think that nowdays most printers used soy-based inks, but how can you be sure?
   Neal Bullington - Friday, 03/22/02 14:53:29 GMT

can you please tell me about the most commonly used and reliable values of (1)yield strength and (2)stress intensity factor of EN24 between the hardness values of RC 35-40.
   Vivek Shrivastav - Friday, 03/22/02 14:55:59 GMT

Safety Glases:

Reenactment and safety glasses involve a natural conflict. It's not bad for the Colonial types, where glasses can be modified to the older patterns, but it's a little tough much before the 15th century. Never the less, I bought three pair of Daisy shooters glasses for our 6th century forging demonstration at Jamestown last weekend. We were delighted with them. They are light, strong, optically excellent, give good coverage, and, except for a blue band at the top (so you can find the beggers), very unobtrusive. The judges even gave us points for USING the safety glasses (especially after I explained that whereas one-eyed blacksmiths may have been authentic in the 6th century, we did not find the condition all that desireable in the 21st). That was a nice change of stance.

I would not recommend them for general shop use. They are a little light for using with power tools, and I have no idea as to their protective values in regards to IR and UV radiation. But for occaisional demonstrations, and using hand tools, they seem to be very useful.
   Bruce Blackistone(Atli) - Friday, 03/22/02 15:03:22 GMT

Wire Brushes:

Rather than use a wire wheel on a grinder or armature, I clamp the piece firmly in a vise and use a heavy duty, low speed, 3/8" drill (the ones with the extra side handle). It can buck a bit but, because of the lower speed and higher mass, everything happens slowly. I also wear safety glasses, leather apron and heavy leather work gloves too. (It's so unpleasent picking a stray wire out of your flesh.)

Bright, cold and windy on the banks of the Potomac. Winter has finally come!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone(Atli) - Friday, 03/22/02 15:17:02 GMT


That's how we learn. I'm glad you were wearing them!
   Paw Paw Wilson - Friday, 03/22/02 16:44:07 GMT

Looking to build a small propane gas forge any plans or ideas ?thanks murf
   Shawn Murphy - Friday, 03/22/02 17:14:09 GMT

hey ive got a peice of angled thick gauge steel, i think,
what should i do o guru?
the angle is less than 90 deg
then again im new so if possiable the project should be at least somewhat possiable, (not make my own house of it)
   - mark - Friday, 03/22/02 17:54:19 GMT

Anyone know of good source for definitive info on DIN pipe thread? please note PIPE thread... got tons on fasteners.
thanks in advance
   - Needham Helpin - Friday, 03/22/02 19:12:19 GMT

Bent Steel Mark, you didn't say how big. Could be a bent nail or the blade off a D-9 Caterpiller. . We have over a hundred projects on the iForge page to selecte from.
   - guru - Friday, 03/22/02 19:28:53 GMT

Small Propane Forges: Shawn, Check our plans page and the links from the gas-burner page.

As soon as I can get the new store pages setup we will be selling Kaowool in small lots sufficient to make a freon tank forge and ITC-100 and 213 for coating the Kaowool and exposed metal parts.
   - guru - Friday, 03/22/02 19:34:28 GMT

EN24 Vivek, EN24 is a proprietary steel designation, not a standard number. I have no data on propriatary steels unless you also have the equivalent SAE, UNS or AISI number.
   - guru - Friday, 03/22/02 19:42:07 GMT


All this talk of finishes has made me want to play with some stainless.... What is a good "starter" stainless, and what do you need to do differently in forging it?


   - Jim - Friday, 03/22/02 19:52:40 GMT

304 SS is the most common and I think most forgeable. You work it hotter than mild steel because it tends to be tougher at a low red than cold. . .

Generaly you can buy it in standard square bar 3/8", 1/2". . . as well as flats and rectangular bar.
   - guru - Friday, 03/22/02 20:37:23 GMT

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