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 23 - 31, 2002 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

I don't think that EN24 is a proprietary grade of steel as we at timken use a EN designiated grade for bearings (not EN24), but I don't know the country of origin or the specs on it.
   Patrick - Friday, 03/22/02 22:22:46 GMT

I'm trying to find someone to trade with. My 2 125# anvils for a 300# or more. One is a Peter Wright. The other the writing is faded, and I can't make it out. The first letter is a T. It has a depression on the bottom of the base. I was told it was a Trenton. Is this correct? If so is it a good brand? Thanks
   Adam O - Saturday, 03/23/02 00:04:39 GMT

EN. . . Hm m m m m I seem to remember that there is an "English" steel spec that uses EN. But none of my interchange stuff covers the EN tool steels.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/23/02 01:45:34 GMT

125 + 125 not equal to 300: Adam, you MIGHT find a trade if you toss in some cash. A smith would probably NOT trade unless he had an excess of large anvils. But over 300 pounds is pretty rare. You might trade two perfect 125's for a beat up 300. Trentons are OK but one letter doesn't make an ID. Often the brand doesn't matter as there are many unmarked anvils. What matters is the construction and the condition.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/23/02 01:50:17 GMT

Vivek: EN24 is defined (1949 British Iron and Steel Research Assoc.) as C= 0.38%, Si= 0.20%, Mn=0.69%,Ni=1.58%,
Cr=0.95%,Mo=0.26%. Don't have any stess data available.
   grandpa - Saturday, 03/23/02 04:40:23 GMT

Just a quick note because I'm familiar with this. "EN" designations are European and simply stand for "European Normal". EN24 is considered interchangeable with A.I.S.I. grade 4340.
   grant - Saturday, 03/23/02 07:20:48 GMT

Hey patric;
You just got the proverbial big guns in to answer your question. You don't want to even think about what the consulting fees would have been.
Better join the Cybersmiths here at anvilfire and consider that you got off REALLY cheap at that.
   - Pete F - Saturday, 03/23/02 09:16:01 GMT

This thing about finding steel specs and other stuff...
I don´t know about other countries than Sweden, but all librarians I have ever met are absolutely thrilled when someone actually let them show what they can do. These men and women might not know a thing about steel, but they DO know how to find information. They are professionals in the field, the oldest corps of information-gatherers in the world. So, all you internet-addicts out there, get away from the screen sometimes and make a librarian happy!
   - Olle Andersson - Saturday, 03/23/02 13:19:38 GMT

Have to vote with Olle, on this one. The internet is a great source of information, and the guru is the greatest. But if all the information in libraries was on the internet, we'd need librarians to help us find it.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 03/23/02 15:01:01 GMT


Does anyone have the details for making charcoal by the "pit burning" method?

Strangely enough, it does NOT involve any pit, nor any container or metal covering.

It was a mound of wood above ground, but I don't remember the exact details.

It was something I read about years ago when I was interested in blackpowder hunting.

Can anyone provide details?

   - Taylor - Saturday, 03/23/02 15:28:48 GMT

Charcoal: Taylor, Look UP a few posts, and yes there is a "pit" method. Of the three methods I described I did not cover the the standard above ground bulk mound method that was used for centuries. For details see the Eric Sloan book, A Reverence for Wood

When coarcoal was made in bulk a large quantity of trees were cut and stacked verticaly around a small hollow central core that was nearly closed at the top. The stack was then covered with dirt to keep out the air. The mound was often 30 feet high and 50 feet across. Several vents were left open on the sides. A prepared fire was started in the central core via the vent at the top. Then the watching and maintaining started. As the fire progressed and the stack settled openings would break through and need to be closed by climbing on top of the mound and sealing the hole. VERY dangerous business. If the fire became too intense the side vents would need to closed and the top vent made smaller. If the fire got out of control there would be little charcoal. If done properly very little wood burned and there was a high percentage of charcoal. The stack would need to be watched constantly for up to a month before it was sealed off to cool. Making charcoal by this method was dangerous, dirty and took great skill. It was also what fueled much of our early industry and in parts of Europe decimated forests. The same method can be used on smaller scale but you get a lower percentage of charcoal.

Time to add these to the coal and charcoal FAQ.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/23/02 16:24:26 GMT

markphire182 your email bounced. You need to re-register for the pub with a good email address.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/23/02 16:25:13 GMT

I was looking for a price on mid 19th century wrought iron gates. Dim 9 ft high by 5 ft wide 2x total 10 ft wide.
The gates have little like arrows on the top of individual 1" x 1 1/2" rails with round circles on bottom of rail. Arrows and rails create a semi half circle starting at 9ft from outside to 7ft inside. Large square locks in center surrounded by (gromets ?) in large diamond pattern around the two locks.

   - Doug - Saturday, 03/23/02 20:31:51 GMT

Doug, I have no clue on antique pricing. However, my best guess to replace these with new work of the same quality would probably cost you between $8,000 and $12,000 US. More if there is a lot of fancy handwork or unique design.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/23/02 20:46:39 GMT

Do you have any suggested bookson setting up a welding/blacksmithing shop on a budget? Also, do you know of ant groups in Miami, Florida?


rjonrobins at hotmail.com
   RJON - Saturday, 03/23/02 22:00:50 GMT

RJON /// & Starting a Smithy on the Cheap.
Welcome to smithing at Many of us started on the cheap scroungin etc.
There are a number of books that cover the subject very well.
Let me recommend 2 to getyou started.
The Complete Blacksmith Alexander Weygers about $20.00 new but can be had second hand.(this is actually a compilation of 3 books that Weygers wrote namely The making of tools, The modern Blacksmith, and The recycling, use, and repair of tools) All great books.
The other book is Wayne Goddard's $50.00 Knife Shop.
There are many others. Try your local library you just might luck out. (there is also interlibrary loan.)
Good luck and happy hot metal bashing.
Regards to all,
(in the midst of the third snow storm in 5 days. About time!)
Another goo
   slag - Sunday, 03/24/02 02:59:19 GMT

Taylor,The guru-described charcoal mound method is also discussed in some detail in "Frontier Iron", James D. Norris,1964, The State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Worzalla Pub., Stevens Point, Wisc. A diagram of the setup is shown on page 50. I've done it twice on a small scale. The mounds were about 8 feet tall. Each time I got about an 80% yield, which I thought was pretty good for a non-professional collier.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/24/02 12:37:32 GMT

Sir,I need help fast,I have been welding for 30+years on heavey equip. I just finished rebuilding a 4 yard loader bucket before leaving on vacation. I just found out the mechanic dipped 2 pins 41/2"dia. in liquid nitrogen to shrink them so they would go into the new bushings,after the loader was put in service the 2 pin snapped in half,they look crtalized , but i was told the welding of the arm was the blame , was this pin breakage due to thermal shock possibly . Thank you
   paul - Sunday, 03/24/02 16:36:40 GMT

Paul, cyrogenic treatment of steel is usualy considered good as it refines the grain somewhat. Liquid nitrogen is cold enough but dry ice is not.

HOWEVER, if the pins were stressed (even taped lightly with a hammer) while at cryogenic temperatures such as being forced into missaligned holes, as is VERY typical on this type equipment they may have been fractured on instalation. Even the temperatures produced by dry ice make steels very brittle and when used should only be when it produces fits that fall together without force.

For your welding to have damaged the pins you would have had to have heated them to a visible red heat and then quenched them with water. Heat from welding could have possibly softened the pins if they were heat treated from the factory. In this case they might have bent or worn excessively but is actually less likely that they would have fractured.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/24/02 17:04:28 GMT

RJON, Try our Getting Started link at the top and bottom of this page. Follow the links and click on the clickable images.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/24/02 17:20:23 GMT

Howdy! i'm thinking about buying an acorn weld platten, had two questions.Approx. how much does 5'x5'weigh, and what are they made of? was wondering how easy it would be to weld up dings and cuts. Also, i just procurred one of those swaying hula girls for the dashboard of my 1956 chevy welding assault vehicle, and don't know protocol reguarding should the girl be facing the open road, or turned around, making sure i'm still awake. reguards, mike
   mike-hr - Sunday, 03/24/02 17:42:31 GMT

on the DIN treads, WHAT info do yuo want?? they are metric descriptions of withworts pipetreads IIRC, OR dryseal OR metric.
I can most likely dig out the info, but need to know what size tread and what system
   OErjan - Sunday, 03/24/02 18:26:04 GMT

Weld Plattens: Mike, I don't know about Acorn brand but most are cast iron. They CAN be broken. Preheat localy and weld with Ni-Rod.

My 4x4 foot (1220 x1220mm) no-name weld platen weighs exactly 1 ton (2000# or 907kg). It is a "light weight" platten with ribs rather than being full thickness all across. A 5x5 the same construction would weigh approximately 3,200 pounds or more.

I've seen dozens of weld plattens of different designs. Some have closer hole patterns, some the holes are in straight lines while others alternate. Most have a heavy rim and ribs with about a 2 or 3 inch thick plate but a few are "solid" or the same thickness all the way across. All this variations effect the weight.

They are a GREAT tool and if you do any arcitectual work you will find yourself using the platten as much as your anvil.

Hula Girl goes in the back window facing those behind you so they can ask, "What kind of . . .

If her dancing keeps you awake then you aren't watching the road anyway. . might as well be asleep when the end comes.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/24/02 18:43:24 GMT

Acorn platten spec's can be found at (http://www.acorniron.com/products/platen.html)
   Daryl - Monday, 03/25/02 05:49:21 GMT

Hello - Am very interested in adding repousse and chasing work to my smithing but am having trouble finding any material about technique. I live in Peterborough Ontario Can.
   Jane Russell - Monday, 03/25/02 14:36:35 GMT

Jane Russell, Bill Fiorini's wife offers workshops in repousse. www.kokairon at clearlakes.com. There is some material in Oppi Untracht's book, "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/25/02 19:17:31 GMT

Jane. Sorry. Forget the www. It is an address. They are in Wisconsin.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/25/02 19:19:35 GMT

I noticed a post a little way back in which it was stated that welding on some large pins would not have contributed to their cracking and failure. I agree with the guru in that the nitrogen treatment was likley the cause of this failure, but welding on large pieces of meidium and high carbon steels will cause localized hardening in the heat affected zone. This is why preheating is so important esp when repair anvils and cast iron objects. The large mass of the surronding metal will effectivly quench the heat affected zone, resulting in a very brittle area of untempered matensite. the preheating helps to releive the stress by tempering this martensite. In steels which normally are not hardened, this is not as big a problem. Without knowing the steel grade used in the pins, it is hard to say if the welds would have caused this condition.
   Patrick - Monday, 03/25/02 21:18:46 GMT

I live in Nebr. Is there anyone around that you know that sells power hammers? I am looking for a 25lb little giant.
   Jim - Monday, 03/25/02 21:46:50 GMT

Patrick, the pins were not welded upon. Only the bucket and structurals. The pins were "frozen" in liquid nitrogen then a sledge hammer was taken to force them into misaligned holes in very heavy parts. . . typical brute force heavy equipment mechanicing EXCEPT for the cyrogenic condition of the pins. . . The pins could have been annealed mild steel and they still would have fractured under the conditions.

Yes, too many folks don't pay attention to preheating or post heating. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/25/02 21:49:15 GMT

NEW Champion Blower and Forge CD-ROM

I just posted a review and sales information on a great new CD from Bill Lynch. Its has the complete 1920 equipment catalog including forges, drills, benders and power hammers. There is also added material such as fliers and patents for Champion equipment.

Check it out on our book review page the "bookshelf".
   - guru - Monday, 03/25/02 21:56:31 GMT

Guru, a few questions. I just started work at a large company that produces structural steel for bridges and buildings. They use A-36 steel for a lot of it. Is this a good grade of steel for general metalworking, blacksmithing and bladesmithing? What types of projects can I do with it? What's the carbon content? I have some scrap that they gave me but I have to buy scrap from them if I want more, is that a common practice and if so what's a good price for scrap A-36 plate? Thanx in advance for any help on these questions.
   Tim - Monday, 03/25/02 23:22:26 GMT

Do you know where I can get any information on construction and design of back draft forges? Also, do you know anything about the type of forge used with charcoal. I would appreciate any help you can give. Regards.P.
   Peter - Monday, 03/25/02 23:28:37 GMT

Peter-Coal forges.
Check out the "plans" link on the main site of Anvilfire. The second and ninth titles are the side draft forge hood and brake drum coal forge. I built a brake drum coal forge using an adapted version of this plan and it works great.
   Tim - Monday, 03/25/02 23:36:05 GMT

Oops, sorry Peter, just noticed that you said back draft and not side draft, is there a difference?
Also you said charcoal forge and not coal, can you use either as fuel in a brake drum forge?.
   Tim - Monday, 03/25/02 23:40:32 GMT

guru, I have the same exact blower shown on the cover of the CD by Bill Lynch and was curios about the value and rarety of this. Love mine to pieces, works super smooth and quiet. Passed down from my wifes great uncle, where it sat on the ground for years after the shop collapsed around it!!! My wifes uncle(a different uncle) who is now almost 70 remembers cranking that blower when he was a kid. Shook the mice out of it and greased it, oiled it up and it is now blasting away at my shop. No plans to part with it just curious for Insurance purposes. Thanks- Scott
   wolfsmithy - Monday, 03/25/02 23:49:12 GMT

Hello Mr. Guru, On 3/19 I asked about a sound recording of a large steam forgeing hammer. You didn't know of one but mentioned Bruce Springsteins "Youngstown" pile driver. But Patrick did respond with one at 20:14. I've been trying to contact him, with no luck. Did he send you a copy ? I would really like to have this. Thanks, Old Chief
   Old Chief - Tuesday, 03/26/02 00:22:13 GMT

A-36 Steel: Tim, This is a very common grade of steel and most "mild steel" hot roll square and round bar is A-36. When you purchase cold drawn steel (CF bar) you get a better grade, generaly SAE 1018 or 1020. Generaly CF bar is a little expensive for blacksmith work and smiths only buy it in sizes they cannot get hot roll.

Scrap prices go up and down but anywhere from 2 cents to 10 cents a pound in normal. You can often buy scrap from scrap yards at 10 cents a pound and they commonly pay a penny (US prices).

Weigh IT! Don't guess unless you are very good at estimating steel weights. . . on the other hand if you let THEM estimate the weight most people under estimate.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/26/02 00:23:42 GMT

Champion 400 Blower: Wolfsmithy, Prices on they vary a lot depending on condition and who's buying. $65 to $150 is common. More if mint. However, I estimated at one time that in today's market they would cost $1800 or so to manufacture in the US. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/26/02 00:27:46 GMT

As my name suggests, I am a student at a Junior High School. I'm doing a research project on blacksmiths, so my question is :What tools did colonial blacksmiths use? (If you can't answer the question, at least give me some places to look it up)
   studentX - Tuesday, 03/26/02 01:20:20 GMT

StudentX, the same basic tools used by smiths today are the same tools used for thousands of years.
Basic style unchanged since bronze age.

Constantly changing but basically the same.

The same since the bronze age.

Constantly changing, charcoal fuel used for thousands of years.

Part of forge used for thousands of years, the Great Double Chambered Bellows became popular about the time of the American Revolution and has remained unchanged. Prior to that pairs of single chambered bellows were used.

The iron and steel blacksmiths screw vise was developed in the middle ages and perfected in the late 1600's or early 1700's. The style has changed little but most smiths today are using vises that are hundreds of years old.

Basicaly the same from the stone age. Colonial era chisel would be made from steel or wrought iron with steel edge.

Same from the bronze age on. Colonial files would have been made of steel but hand cut.

Basically unchanged except for material from the stone age. Colonial era scrapers would be made of steel and used in place of sandpaper by metal workers as well as wood workers.

hack saw
Little changed except in style since the middle ages.

drill bits
The familiar twist drill is a modern invention but drills with primitive points date to the stone age. The brace date to the bronze age and remain very much the same today. The bow drill dates to the stone age and is still used by some craftspeople.

grind stone
Round grind stones of natural sand stone have been used for grinding and sharpening steel for a thousand years or so. They were run by water power in factories from very early times as well as hand or foot powered as today.

Take away anyhing that uses an electric motor or bottled gas fuel in a modern blacksmith shop and its not much different than a Colonial era shop. In the 1700's many tools were highly developed. A pair of needle nosed pliers from 1770 is exactly the same as a pair found in your local hardware store today.

In the 1800's coal started replacing charcoal as the smith's favorite fuel and has remained so until present times. However propane forges are being used in high numbers due to being clean and the greater availability of fuel.

Anvils of the time were not as exaggerated a shape as today.

For illustrations of some Colonial era tools and techniques see Paw-Paw Wilson's The Revolutionary Blacksmith on our story page. For life in a shop of the times see my story A Day in the Life of a Blacksmith's Apprentice, also on our story page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/26/02 02:24:51 GMT

anybody got any ideas on forgeing a meat cleaver?don't know why but i'm going to try to make one.
   "J.R." Clark - Tuesday, 03/26/02 14:50:37 GMT

JR, Start with a piece of steel that you know you can harden and temper such as a piece of spring steel or tool steel. Look at the thickness and taper of a good one before starting.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/26/02 15:43:24 GMT

A36 has a variable alloy content. It is sold by a yield point spec (36 kPSI) as long as it meets that they don't care how the alloy is mixed to get there. Since one bar may be different in alloy content than the next you may want to go to a better grade of steel if you have a tricky piece to do. A36 can be a pain since it may burn at a lower temp or even harden if thin sections are quenched resulting in the famous "oops" as your item spontaneously decide to drop a bit of carefully forged ornament---but it's cheap!

It is the common "mild steel" smiths, weldors, fab folk use in their day to day work. It is *NOT* a knife alloy---far better to practice knifesmithing with coil springs or leaf springs if you don't want to "spring" for store boughten steel.

If the Co has to pay to haul it off; you can often get it free. Sometimes they charge to cut down on the ammount of "good stuff" that makes its way into the scrap pile and then gets removed for a personal project by the same guy who scrapped it...Some companies will *not* allow employees to get steel from their scrap bin for this reason.

Check the price charged for metal at the local scrapyard and compare it and the "quality" to what they charge you.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/26/02 16:22:31 GMT

old Chief
I did get your email last week and sent you a note yesterday with the pictures and video attached. The file was about 2700 KB total in size. Half of that was still photos in JPEG format. I don't know what format the video was in, but I have emailed it to others. Is it possible that the size of the email clogged up your system? IF so I will be happy to resend them individually. It may take a few days thouh since I spend a few days a week away from my office computer on which I am storing the pictures.
   Patrick - Tuesday, 03/26/02 17:49:49 GMT

Patrick, send the file to me and I'll post it where it can be FTP'd off the server.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/26/02 18:43:34 GMT

Dear Guru,
I am a 3rd grader at Libbey Elementary in Wheatland, Wyoming. I am writing this letter with the consent and supervision of my teacher, Mrs. Amundson.
I was reading Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. In the book it mentioned the word "coal-scuttle". I need to know what it means. My internet search led me to you.
Please email your answer to my teacher at her school email address. A picture would be really great!
camund at mail.platte1.k12.wy.us

Thank you for your time,
(and Mrs. Amundson)
   Quinn - Tuesday, 03/26/02 21:22:12 GMT

Coal Scuttle Quinn,

I do not have a picture of a coal scuttle but I can describe it.

A coal scuttle is a container, like a metal bucket, for carrying coal. They were often tapered sort of like a fat funnel.

From the top they looked oval shaped and the parts that were widest were also higher than the middle.

Like a metal bucket, they had a heavy wire bail (the handle loop) with a cylindrical wooden handle.

If your school has a BIG old dictionary there is probably a picture of one there. There might be picture in one of the old reprints of the Sears and Roebuck Catalog from the turn of the last century (1800's - 1900's).

Good luck on your research!
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/26/02 22:17:13 GMT

J. R. Clark and Meat Cleavers:
Get a copy of Alexander G. Weyger's book "The Making of Tools". Project # 8 page 52 has a cleaver making/smithing project. The book is out of print but is now available as a new book called "The Complete Modern Blacksmith". About $20.00 at Amazon or B. & N. etc. His new book is a compilation of the above book and two others that the late Mr. Weygers wrote on blacksmithing (in the 1970's).
Do me a favour (I just did you one), support this web site so that it doesn't sink. Join Cybersmiths International (the form is somewhere on this site.) (it's about $50.00 and you also get discounts on various goodies with it).
Regards to all from The Great White North. (we're having the third major snowstorm in 10 days,. I love it!).
   slag - Tuesday, 03/26/02 22:40:35 GMT

guru, just curious if Donald Streeter is still around or has he passed away. I read his book(Professional Smithing) about 5 years ago and it was a great inspiration. Just got my own copy today and its as good as I remembered it. truely a talented man. Thanks-Scott
   wolfsmithy - Tuesday, 03/26/02 23:11:38 GMT


Want a picture of a coal scuttle? I can take a picture of mine.
   Paw+Paw+Wilson - Tuesday, 03/26/02 23:12:02 GMT

Wolfsmithy, I have some hearsay about Donald Streeter. I *know* that he ran a thriving business making hardware for years in Franklinville, New Jersey. I have heard that in his youth, he worked briefly at Samuel Yellin's. When he retired, Streeter moved to Santa Barbara, California. A Santa Fe smith, Helmut Hillenkamp, spent quite a bit of time with him in California. I understand that Streeter has passed away. Helmut has a Site at www.iron-to-live-with.com
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/27/02 00:50:47 GMT

Estimating steel wt: A useful fact to keep in your head is that a piece of plate 1' x 1' x 1" (144 cu in) is a tad more than 40lbs.

To back up what guru said about vendors eyeballing steel wt: I spotted some plate 1' x 10' x 1" perfect for the top of a welding table. The scrap guy picked up one end and said "hmm feels like 200lbs" Well I knew he was bang on - since, according to the "40lb rule", the whole plate weighed about 400lbs amd one end would be about 200lbs. But he didnt cotton and gave me a price based on 200lbs. :)
   adam - Wednesday, 03/27/02 01:21:57 GMT

Dear Guru And Patrick, I did not see anything in the mail of the sound recording. I'll clear it out to make room, just in case. Oh Guru, where would you locate your copy so I could find it ?
Old Chief
   Old Chief - Wednesday, 03/27/02 01:41:16 GMT

ESTIMATING STEEL WEIGHT - The formula which has served me well for many years is 3.4 #/sqin/ft for carbon steel (not stainless). A 1x1 inch bar weighs 3.4 #/ft. So does a 1/2x2, a 1/4x4, and a 1/8x8 if you get the drift. So if you are looking at a 1/2x5 strip, thats 2.5 sqin. So it weighs 3.4x2.5=8.5 #/ft. In your head you can think 2x3.4=6.8 and .5x3.4=1.7 so the total is 8.5. Similarly a 1/4 by 1 strip is 1/4 sqin. 3.4 divided by 2 is 1.7, and 1.7 divided by 2 is .85, so 3.4/4=.85#/ft for 1/4x1.

If you take the time to remember 3.4 pounds per square inch for one foot of length it is easy to accurately calculate steel weight down to 1/8 inch materials. With sheet metal you need to really know the thickness which is inaccurate with a tape measure.

The above formula is most handy when looking at strip, rounds, channel, angle and beam in a scrap yard. If you can measure a piece and estimate the cross section area (ignore the radius in beams, angle, and channel) you can get an accurate weight per foot easily. In refinery turnarounds I often compete with other engineers and Boilermakers during demolition to see who can calculate the weight of a piece being cut down the quickest and most accurately. 3.4#/sqin/ft usually wins out, and if the demo piece is big, like 40 tons or more, accuracy is as important as speed.

Notice this calculates 40.8#/sqft for 1 inch plate. As Adam said, a tad more than 40#.

For pipe, the best formula for weight per foot is 10.6802x(D-t)xt, D is outside diameter in inches and t is thickness in inches. This is from API 5L pipe specification and is designated in that specification to be used to calculate pipe weight between buyer and seller and is good for carbon steel and low alloy steel. I easily remember 10.6802 from years of hand calculations, but if you can remember 10.7 you are only off by 0.2%. Diameter minus thickness then times thickness then times 10.7 is easy to remember if you need it!

If you are a mathmatician and have trouble with the (D-t)xt term being rigorous, you can easily derive it with algebra. Basically you will find that the area of a pipe cross section is a function of the average diameter (d-t), hence the average circumference, times the thickness.
   Andy Martin - Wednesday, 03/27/02 04:02:29 GMT

Product Finishes: There’s always a good discussion going about the “magic bullet” perfect metal finish. Well campers, I haven’t found it… But I did befriend the manager at my local Sherwin-Williams store. I’ve been bringing in widgets for some time, I got him to call the regional plant, and we came up with “opex acrylic metal lacquer #T82C13. I did a small sculpture using Iforge #123 duck heads w/some cattails and tules, to accompany the ‘please drive thru’ module at a local coffee house. I noticed while re- fabricating the previously smashed-in guard rail that there were way too many rich housewives coming thru that needed to look at some hand forged work while ordering their double-half-caff-mocha-steamers. Anyway, the owner loves it, mainly because I did the piece au gratis to accompany the insurance work, and I could get some word of mouth from it. The lacquer is a semi-low sheen, exterior grade product. We live in a high desert clime, with snowy, wet winters, pounding UV exposures in summer, compounded by two weeks of paradise in between. He said it should last, conservatively, 3-5 years, before maintenance. This product retails for $210.00/5gal. If regional club members got together, they could split up quarts, and come out okay. Take a widget to you local s-w store, chances are the manager will take to the challenge, and pour off an ounce to demo. Hope this helps, thanks for the great site.
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 03/27/02 04:27:18 GMT

Chris; RE Lincoln; I have the model that came before it and it has been a good solid , trouble free machine.
Lincoln is pretty happy about laying on the literature if you contact them.
Mike Hr....let's see if it lasts 5 years in the high desert then it might make it through 2 here on the coast, maybe.

   - Pete F - Wednesday, 03/27/02 08:04:57 GMT

NEAT site. I am a newbie here but have been over 16 for about 44 years. I guess what I need most is a steer in the right direction toward silver soldering bandsaw blades. I am told it can be done, but don't see how. I use silver solder all the time but fear that a blade would have its temper destroyed for a significant length. They don't do partial dentures for bandsaws!

Any wisdom??

Must tell you about my only contact with a real smithy who said of the local farmers that " The hottest place in Hell is set aside for the cold-iron blacksmith."
   Wayne Harvey - Wednesday, 03/27/02 09:20:03 GMT

Oops - I used the 'POST' e-mail page on your site to send a comment about finishes for the Guru - can you retrieve it and pop it onto the message board please, Guru?

Dick Quinnell
   Dick Quinnell - Wednesday, 03/27/02 10:49:49 GMT

Wayne Harvey, The "old fashioned" way of brazing band saw blades is diagramed in Ernst Schwarzkopf's book, "Plain and Ornamental Forging", recently republished by Astragal Press, Mendham, New Jersey. The ends to be brazed are scarfed with simple bevels, lapped, and the blades are set-screwed to a jig, so the scarfs are in mid-air, so to speak. Spelter is sprinkled around the joint. Brazing tongs are heated red hot and squeezed on the joint, melting the hard solder. Each jaw of the tongs is about 1" square in section. This may still work for straight carbon and low alloy blades, but I'm told that it does not work on some of the recently made alloy blades.
"En la casa der herrero, cuchara de palo".
"In the house of the blacksmith, (hangs) a wooden spoon".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/27/02 13:11:17 GMT

Sorry. In my recent post, I got a little German mixed in with the Spanish. Should be "de herrero", not "der".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/27/02 13:13:23 GMT


How do I keep my 20lb propane tank from freezing when I use my gas forge?
   Chris - Wednesday, 03/27/02 15:03:20 GMT

Finishes: Dick, Sorry, I think your post is lost in cyberspace. . . It didn't come in the mail and is not hiding in one of the other forums. . . Maybe you posted to a different web site???? All you can do is try again. Please note that our system filters out HTML code and angle brackets that delineate code.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/27/02 16:26:09 GMT

Propane Tanks Chris, There are a number of solutions some of which will bring the fire marshall and saftey inspector out.

A common method in warm weather is to set the propane bottle in a tank of water. The more water the better. This will act as a heat sink and keep you going longer. You may want to make a hold down bracket to keep the bottle from floating as it empties. Even a full propane bottle will float in deep enough water.

The extra benifit of this method is the water gets VERY cold and you can use it to cool your beer. . . as many do.

In freezing weather a thermostaticaly controlled heat blanket or heat tapes wrapped around the bottle and then covered in (non flamable) insulation will help. In Canada they use electric "battery blankets", an item we don't see in the more Southern climes. Note that this is one of those methods that can be very dangerous if you are not careful.

If it is a chronic problem then you should get a larger propane bottle. However, watch out, on April 1st all old propane tanks of 40 pounds and under that do not have the new OPD float safety valves are about to become extinct. You will not be able to get them refilled. The new valves have triangular knobs. I suspect there will be a bunch of unscrupulas folks selling old propane bottles a "bargain" prices.

See our December 16 - 23, 2001 archive for details.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/27/02 16:51:49 GMT

Bandsaw Blades: Wayne, I personaly have not had any luck silver soldering or brazing band saw blades. However, a lot depends on the type of saw and blade. The small horizontal cut-off band saws that twist the blade are VERY hard on blades. The combination of small wheels, short span, hard shouldered wheels and the twist can cause frequent blade joint failure. On these I have found that only the BEST welding job holds up.

When I first started buying blades I was getting common carbon steel blades and they did not hold up at all. I started purchasing Lenox bimetalic HSS toothed blades and have gotten excellent service from them. However, Lenox recommends (I think requires dealers) to have a VERY expensive blade welder for this type blade.

On standard in-line bandsaws without the twist you can probably get away with do it yourself blade joints. I"ve never had the chance to try. My big wood working band saw runs at the top limit (over 60 MPH linear) for wood saws and when blades fail the inertia accordians several feet of the blade. . . (many kinks). I have straighten a couple but have not been happy with their performance afterward. . .

Silver soldering, like brazing and welding is an art. If you heat more than about a 1/4" wide area of the blade while silver soldering then you are using too big a torch and bad technique. Normally the blade is trimmed square and held in a little graphite block that backs up the joint and keeps the blade aligned. After joining and finishing the joint flat there should be no visible offset in any direction. If there is misalignment the blade will have a VERY short life and is not worth putting back in the saw. . .

Look for the book Frank recommends.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/27/02 17:16:28 GMT


I'm new to this site and message board. I have scanned the current message list, and didn't find the answer I seek, ditto the FAQ page. So here goes, and I apologize if I should have already found what I'm looking for, as I imagine this is a common malady. Recently retired, and with more academic than applied background in metallurgy, I have the illusion that one day I might be able to fold forge Japanese style blades, having already managed, via many hours of practice, to do a passable job of polishing (well, foundation polishing, at least; my finish polishing is still kinda lame). My blade formation problem starts with getting a decent forge weld. I've read books and gotten internet advice from accomplished smiths, but still no go. I'm using a gas forge, and have tried using quarter inch rebar for practice (first pounded flat), as well as trying some blade quality eighth inch by one inch (cut in three inch pieces) 1084HR, employing a borax flux. I've used up a full tank of propane, trying to vary the temps, amount of flux, strength behind the hammer blow, etc., without much luck (about one for four success rate). I've been told that when the temp and flux are right, I should be able to just "tap" the pieces together, but have yet to achieve this level of forge nirvana. It seems that the pieces just don't want to merge, or else they start to weld, but then shift around and break the weld as I try to complete the weld. Do I really need to get a buzzbox and weld the corners of the pieces together to keep them from shifting in order to accomplish a full weld? If so, can anyone recommend a traditional koto or shinto Japanese buzzbox? ;o) I probably need to learn forge welding in person from a smith, but know of none in my area (San Luis Obispo, CA). Also, as careful as I've tried to be, the inevitable flux drips have really torn up the floor insulation in my gas forge, like dripping water on cotton candy. Can I replace this apparent rock wool type insulation with, say, firebrick or other material without damage to the forge, that will better resist the hot, dripping flux? Thanks for any and all enlightenment you may be able to provide.
   Rick B. - Wednesday, 03/27/02 17:44:27 GMT

i have certain queries about stepper motor . a stepper motor is normally rotate in small degrees. for example may be 3 degree like that. can we make it to rotate above 3 degree or less than that or once if it is fixed it cannot be changed.if possible send the applications of stepper motor.
   anbusezhiyan - Wednesday, 03/27/02 17:58:32 GMT

Stepper Motors Anbuszhiyane, Yes, you can make stepper motors move in larger steps but it depends on the stepper motor and the windings.

Three things vary the step. 1) the number of poles. 2) the number of windings and 3) the contoller.

Stepper motors are designed to move in various steps and can also be forced to move in fractions of a step by "micro stepping". This is done with the controller by activating three of four poles to create a condition where the armature does not move an even step.

Stepper motors are available from Superior Electric Co. that move in the following whole steps. .72°, 1.8° (standard), 2.0°, 2.5°, 5.0° and 15.0°.

Superior Electric Co., has a design guide called the Design Engineers Guide to DC Stepping motors that is very useful. Note, this is a 25 year old address.

Superior Electric Co.
383 Middle Street
Bristol, CT 06010

Motion magazine is also a good source of information on this subject as well as suppliers.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/27/02 18:44:52 GMT

Gas Forge Problems Rick, First, when it comes to forge welding, practice, practice, paractice. . . No, you don't need to tack weld the stack but it makes it more convienient to start. You can also wire the stack together but the wires tend to contaminate the billet if welded in. The best non-welding method is to shape a pair of tongs to fit your stack perfectly (including the sides). A squared "U" shaped bottom with a standard jaw will hold the bars in alignment as well as let you use them as the thickness changes.

In the case of welding laminated steels cleanliness IS Godliness. Grind off all scale, rust or surface oxides before building the stack. Then flux early and heavily.

If you are using stainless or high chrome and nickle alloys you need a more agressive flux than borax. 5 to 10% flourite (flourspar) powder is added to the borax.

Light duty fiber lined forges are not designed to be flux resistant. However, you CAN protect the fiber and the refractory brick with ITC-100. It is a high temperature ceramic coating designed to protect refractories. It helps protect Kaowool and Insowool from both chemical and mechanical damage. We sell it now but I am just in the middle of setting up the sales pages. $29.95 per pint plus shipping (covers 6 to 12 square feet). Try this URL. The cart is not yet active:


I do not know how resistant ITC-100 is to flux but it is used to line crucibles that are commonly exposed to flux. I'll be reporting more on this soon. Anyone with experiance with it please contact me.

Those that regularly weld laminated steel have pools of flux build up in their forges to the point that it must be drained off. The flux also boils and evaporates then deposits itself on cooler surfaces of the forge forming stalagtites of flux.

There are all kinds of strategies for protecting the bottom of your forge. One of the most economical is to use cheep terracota clay tiles to cover the floor of your forge. Use unglazed red or stoneware tiles. Your forge gets hot enough to boil standard white ceramic clay.

Note that anything you put in the floor of your forge will be welded there when it is cooled. If you need to remove tiles then you will need to do su when the flux that runs under them is melted.

The light weight refractory blanket materials are very efficient but were not designed to be exposed to mechanical damage. Plans for most suggest using ITC-100 to coat the refractory. Most comercial builders do not use it as it is relatively expensive and they do not warrant their forges against flux damage OR that they will reach welding temperatures.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/27/02 19:26:13 GMT

you can use bailing wire (soft Stainless works well for me) to bind the stock together for welding.
   MP - Wednesday, 03/27/02 19:41:53 GMT

Rick B.
Please note very carefully the last six words in Jock's answer. By the way, I think welding larger stuff is easier for the beginner. It stays in the critical welding temperature zone better. San Luis Obispo is a beatiful place and you are fortunate to be close to one of the turely great minds in our vocation...that Left coast-hugging, cliff hangin', edge-dwellin' Peter the Fell.
Pick his brain some time.
   L.Sundstrom - Wednesday, 03/27/02 21:55:03 GMT

Does anyone, other than Centaur, make up touchmarks?
   Terry - Wednesday, 03/27/02 22:54:38 GMT

Wayne Harvey:
for band saw repair and splices I have used the kit from Lee Valley Tools for several years the only failure was due to my over tensioning of the blade try this url for the kit


Or for just looking at well made good looking tools for the craftsman try


they give prices in U.S. & Can dollars, their returns policy is great and they are easy to deal with. every time I'm in Ottawa I spend an hour or two drooling my way round the warehouse and return sales area.
   Mark Parkinson - Wednesday, 03/27/02 22:55:13 GMT

Wolfsmithy: Lou Mueller gives demonstrations using Donald Streeter principles. Shows stamping out misc. on fly press, bending, making die plates, tollerances for punching, etc. etc.
   - dave wells - Thursday, 03/28/02 00:12:36 GMT

I am a wrench turner by trade (Elevator constructor) and don't use this picture radio too much. I am 23 and a country road man by birth, this is a hobby that I have pondered for too long. I live in Maine and don't care to travel to Mass for a meeting. However I don't know how to join your site to talk to the guys for a few tips and people localy I can meet. Pardon my stupidity for my internet knowledge but how-to on joining would be greatly apprecated. Thank you for your time. Luke Ward Big_twinhd at yahoo.com
   Luke Ward - Thursday, 03/28/02 03:05:14 GMT

Guru, I am currently designing my touchmark and would like to understand the legallities of it. Do I need to do any searching like a copyright to see if its been done. Would hate to step on anyones toes. Thanks -Scott
   wolfsmithy - Thursday, 03/28/02 03:06:20 GMT

Re: hard-soldering bandsaw blades. Thanks everyone! IT WORKS. I just tried a bi-metal blade in a simple jig made out of scrap and C clamps. Had a little trouble getting the two ends co-planar but a proper jig curved to fit my 64.5" blades ( r = 10.25 in my head?) should solve that problem. Strong joint. I let it run in my little horizontal saw for about 5 minutes and did a couple of trial cuts. Except for a minor ker-whump each time the joint enters the work, no problem. I never woulda thunk, since all the silver soldering I have done in the last 40 years has involved big stuff and a bunch of heat. A 1/2" blade got to temperature in seconds with a butane pencil torch. Gotta go build a real jig! Cheers!
   - Wayne Harvey - Thursday, 03/28/02 04:04:17 GMT

Our local recycling center has all sorts of stuff available and I'm thinking of using some of it to mix up a quenching bath. Of the following, what could I use/what should I avoid? Transmission fluid, hydraulic fluid, 2 cycle motor oil, boiled linseed oil, bearing grease. The price for this stuff is right; free, which is why I'm considering using it.
   - Khym - Thursday, 03/28/02 06:06:23 GMT

I guess I am answering myself here, but in return for all the good advice about soldering bandsaw blades, I offer a couple of ideas for those interested in finishing brass/bronze/copper. A good black can be had via a mixture of lead acetate and sodium thiosulphate (just photo fixer). Almost any ratio will work; just cook it in hot water for as long as it takes. OK, take all the usual precautions about lead. Do it outdoors and don't breathe (!) For a quick silver color on copper alloys, you can't beat the chemical tin plate used on electronic circuit boards. I'm not sure what is in the stuff but a few minutes dip will turn brass etc. a nice muted "silver" color. Available from any electronic supplier. One brand is "Liquid Tin".
   - Wayne Harvey - Thursday, 03/28/02 06:24:38 GMT

I guess I am answering myself here, but in return for all the good advice about soldering bandsaw blades, I offer a couple of ideas for those interested in finishing brass/bronze/copper. A good black can be had via a mixture of lead acetate and sodium thiosulphate (just photo fixer). Almost any ratio will work; just cook it in hot water for as long as it takes. OK, take all the usual precautions about lead. Do it outdoors and don't breathe (!) For a quick silver color on copper alloys, you can't beat the chemical tin plate used on electronic circuit boards. I'm not sure what is in the stuff but a few minutes dip will turn brass etc. a nice muted "silver" color. Available from any electronic supplier. One brand is "Liquid Tin".
   - Wayne Harvey - Thursday, 03/28/02 06:28:41 GMT

Wayne; I silver solder bandsaw blades and run them in my small saws that twist them something awful...only done half a dozen of them so far with 2 failing promptly and one later. As I get better they last longer. I use an angle iron length with a section cut from the middle of one leg with C clamps for a jig. I grind about 1/2" bevel in opposite sides of the blade after degreasing the ends. Set one side in the jig and smear silver solder flux paste on the ground face. sprinkle spelter onto the flux( minced silver solder. Smear the other end's ground face with flux paste, bend slightly to put a little pressure on the joint and clamp carefully in place. With a little propane soldering torch I heat slowly from below watching for the solder to flow and fill the joint. Sometimes it is necessary to correct the alignment after soldering on the anvil by striking one side or the other gently, with the teeth hanging clear of the faces. File flat.
Rick B; You are in luck. The Ca Blacksmith Assn spring conf will be early april in Watsonville, only about 2 hours north of you
under " hot iron"
There are some folks in the area into that stuff..email me if you like so i can misdirect you further.
Mr Sundstrom's advice is sometimes suspect despite his considerable erudition and practical expertese.
Kyhm; In the same spirit, there is a more pleasant alternative...it is right behind your local deep-fry joint.Around here they get a penny a gallon for it, be sure to use enough volume that it doesnt overheat in use...and have a convient tight fitting lid at hand for when the oil flashes and decides to burn enthusiastically. Save the boiled linseed oil for finishing.
   Pete F - Thursday, 03/28/02 06:49:31 GMT

Khym: Transmission fluid or boiled linseed oilare the things I would use (NOT mixed).
even better is pure food grade vegetable oilm (peanut oil has been recomended) or pure mineral oil.
I use recycled deepfrying oil for small stuff (have 5 liter in a 10liter can with a hinged lid).
the hinged lid is NECESARY as the oil couldflash (read WILL FLASH if overheated).
Usually after hardening several pieces or too large a part for volume of oil.
   OErjan - Thursday, 03/28/02 13:12:47 GMT

In answer to your question: "What should I advoid?" Whereas, I believe Pete F. was correct if not indirect in his answer, I would say (to the point) "Advoid quenching in automotive products at all cost." The reason goes to the very core of our love of smithing...the smells of steel and fire. Nothing is quite so pleasing as the odor of coal smoke once removed. But nothing quite destroys that hard won atmosphere as thoroughly as burning motor oil. I once used it and swore off all oil quench alloys for the rest of my life. Then, one of the guiding lights on this page said that when quenching with peanut oil, the after smell is the nostalgic aroma of peanut butter sandwiches. I yield to his sage and aromatic advice. Thus and henceforth will my coffee urn contain said emollient.
   L.Sundstrom - Thursday, 03/28/02 16:06:34 GMT

Luke Ward and ALL,

The Q&A on this page is free to all as are the iForge demos and most of anvilfire.

The Slack-Tub Pub has a registration form button. You may have to scroll down to find it. Fill in the information and in about a day (I do them in batches) you will get an email informing you it is "all setup".

Then there is CSI (Cyber Smiths International). (click on this link or the one at the bottom of the page). This is our support group who's dues help pay the bills. Without them we would have disappeared from the Internet long ago. We desperately need more memebers because our costs like everyone elses are constantly increasing and though we are still here, we are just barely squeeking by. Many of the things we used to do are on hold due to lack of funds.

We NEED our users help to stay on-line. Advertisers pay about 1/3 and sales from our store aout 1/3. That leaves ME and the members to makeup the rest. Since I am currently supported by anvilfire I have put everything into it and only take out enough to eat. . .

Currently we have a few more than 100 members and a few of those may have dropped out. We need ten times that number to do the job right and at least double just to keep squeeking by. AND like your local Public Radio station we WILL take donations. However, unlike public radio stations who recieve on average of half a million dollars a year in government support, we recieve no government support or grants.

We need your help. The CSI link is always at the bottom of this page.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/28/02 16:14:51 GMT

Quenching media: The primary reason to avoid automotive oil is the additives are often quite toxic and thus so is the smoke. I often recomend transmission oil due to haviing less aditives but never used oil. However, it is still not as good as some other choices.

Boiled linseed oil is what you make paint out of and it will harden on your work and is VERY hard to get off. Although as a former oil paining artist I rather enjoyed the smell of linseed oil, too much of it can make you nausous. Different folks have differnt tollerances for certain oders. . Boiled linseed oil will also eventualy harden into a solid block. Raw linseed oil drys but much slower.

Peanut oil may eventualy become rancid. But maybe not.

I generaly recommend mineral oil. The clear variety like "baby oil" is also used in the baking industry to oil pans. It is sweet, non-toxic and will not go rancid.

All the above are flamable. Industry is moving to new water based synthetic polymer quenching media but I understand it stinks (smells) in use. However, it is non-flamable.

Oil, have a lower density AND lower heat transmission rate requires much more volume than water to quench a given part. It is very easy to overheat a small container of oil to the flash point. Well before reaching the flash point the smoke will flare from being ignited by the hot metal. So. . . take the warnings about haveing a covered container seriously.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/28/02 16:29:50 GMT

Pete, was that "glaring" enough?
   - guru - Thursday, 03/28/02 16:31:35 GMT


I am looking for a better method of cutting bar stock than the hacksaw I am currently using. My local Tractor Supply company has a fairly inexpensive metalcutting chop saw, and a horizontal "chop" bandsaw. What are the advantages/disadvantages here? Can I just put an abrasive blade in my wood working chop saw?

Most of what I cut will be 1/2" or smaller, and I am not doing a huge amount of cutting, so my budget for this is only $200 or so. Any more than that and I will just stick with the hacksaw....


   - Jim - Thursday, 03/28/02 17:28:40 GMT


I use a horizontal, vertical cutting band saw. I occasionally use a cut off wheel in my 4 1/2" side grinder but 90% of my cutting is done with the band saw. Someday, I may buy a chop saw, but only for cutting tools steels with.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Thursday, 03/28/02 17:36:53 GMT

Touchmarks: Wolfsmithy, It is a tricky area. In the ironworking business in North America there is no central registry other than our slowly growing and under promoted
International Registry of Blacksmith Touchmarks.

Legal trademarks are a very difficult issue. To research them you go to the U.S. patent office or one of its satelite libraires and search through the existing trademarks OR pay a patent lawyer thousands of dollars to do so. . . THEN, the general rule is that you just start USING your trademark in public business. It must be in nationwide trade. After several years if you have not had any complaints about possible infringement the patent office will take your registration AND your money. . .

Note that even though the Patent Office has many NEW patents and trademarks in their computer system the vast majority of old information, that may still apply, is not. The satelite libraries have this information on microfilm but it is difficult to use. A trip to Crystal City, VA (next to Arlington) is the best way to do this research if you can afford it.

Please note, I am not a Trademark expert or a lawyer and may have this all wrong. But it is the best of what I know from reading the application paperwork. Also note that the U.S. Patent office is now a "fee funded" department. That means that fees now reflect the costs of operating that government entity and they are now significant. Not only that but patents now require an annual fee to remain in force. . .

In patents and trademarks the important rule is, who invented it or in the case of trademarks, used it, first? Registration in our registry can help support this claim AND does put your mark in the national as well as international arena, but has no legal status.

There are also some fuzzy rules about the specific trade the mark is used in. If your mark looked like one used by a manufacturer of refridgerators and there was no way to confuse your business (hand forged ironwork) with theirs (refridgerators) then you might have the right to use that mark. However, a big corporation may take you to court at huge expense (to you) even if they are wrong. . . they will win by costing you more than you can afford. So don't go copying the Ford or Chevy trademarks. . .

An intresting comment on this subject. The mark of Francis Whitaker, his famous Diamond <F> was also the mark of a big commercial forge who's mark I found in a copy of the 1939 ASM Forging Handbook on a chart from the Drop Forging Association. There was also a sideways diamond, a triangle and several circles and partial circles with a capital "F".

So, design and make your mark, send a good photo of the mark in steel OR a sample in steel along with your registration fee and we will get that puppy out in public!

   - guru - Thursday, 03/28/02 17:42:42 GMT

Saws and Cutting: Jim, reciprocating or band saws are best. They are smooth, cool, quiet and inexpensive to operate. However, it is difficult to find a good saw for $200. The real cheap imported bandsaws copied after the Ridgid brand saw (no longer made) are not worth the aggrevation even if they are FREE.

Abrasive chopsaws are noisy, hot and dirty. They also do the job inexpensively from an initial standpoint but wheels are replaced often and will rapidly pay for a bandsaw. Although they will cut hard materials they are not recommended for annealed tool steel. You end up with a hardened area where cut and have lost the advantage (and expense) of the annealed steel.

NEVER use abrasive wheels in wood working saws. The grit gets into places that are not designed to handle abrasive grit and the life of your saw is very short.

I made the Heavy Duty hack saw on the Getting Started page because I was doing so much hand sawing that I trashed several Craftman hacksaws in a few weeks. . . I found that sawing with good hard blades, was much prefered to torching and more efficient than hot cutting.

Even more efficient but not very portable would be a little cutoff die for a hydraulic press. A 10 ton hyrdaulic jack will cut 9/16 square (or round) and smaller. Hand opperated lever bar shears are made for small stock but need serious anchoring (like to a weld platten) in order to apply enough force to cut 1/2" bar.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/28/02 18:01:17 GMT

there is nothing wrong with the "Cheap" band saws my old one (an enco model $135 )lasted about 15 years and was finaly retired due to a cracked frame moveing it from one shop to anouther. my current band saw is a realy cheap harbor frieght model (adout $180) I wouldn't sigest buying from them but the saw is fine.
the thing that i have noticed with these is that they are a pain to set up and to be acurect need to be consantly adjusted when ever the set up is changed. how ever I have and still do a LOT of work on mine and so far the only thing that has stoped it has been stainless. (it realy dosn't like to cut stainless.)
   MP - Thursday, 03/28/02 18:26:36 GMT

MP, I have seen many of these machines that didn't have enough adjustment to be made to cut straight and many have really cheap guide bearings that don't hold up. Buying a machine and then having to "remanufacture" it (moving holes, adding brackets) in order for it to operate is not a good deal and not within many folks patience or understanding.

My old Ridgid cuts 2" diameter bar within +/-.005 squareness when I level up the stock rollers, Or if it is short enough stock to not need extra support. Using a good Lenox HSS blade I've cut hundreds of pounds of stainless into small pieces in a single day running at the fastest speed (220 FPM) using a little WD-40 for lube/coolant. When those pieces are all going to be machined that squareness and only needing to allow 1/64" for cleanup is a real time saver, expecialy in SS.

When I bought this saw it had been worn out by the previous blacksmith who ran a large shop. I had to replace all the guide bearings. HE, had replaced the gears. But it had seen 10 years of heavy production use. I in turn used it steadily for another 10 years. After my initial adjustments and trial cuts I have never adjusted the machine. But to do dead accurate work I suspect it may need a little tweeking now.

Our shop bought a nearly identical saw from "Where America Shops". The big difference being that the cast table and support arm had been replaced with heavy pressed steel. The head, gears and quides were identical. In ten years of adjusting by everyone in our shop (including myself) it could never be made to cut within 1/8" of square in 2". I'm sure it cost us the price of a better saw in 1/2" stock allowances that had to be machined off. . .

To replace the little saw our shop purchased a $17,000 imported automatic cut-off saw from a popular dealer of imported tools. For that money It should have been a great tool. However, the automatic feed cut-off never worked. The power vise would shove the work through the limit switch and out of the saw (often breaking something). A great deal of time and money were put into trying to fix it and the problem was never resolved. . . Sometimes you don't even get what you pay for.

The original Ridgid brand saw I have is not a great machine but it was built to a good minimum standard. The later copies that cheapened the design have all gone well under any standard of good design.

Yes, some work but many don't. I'm pretty fast with my big hacksaw and would stick with IT rather than pay for frustration. Buying them is a gamble.

Now I have another old used saw waiting for me in Pennsylvannia. . all I have to do is drive up and get it. . . I'll buy old and used long before new and cheap. If I have to work on a tool to make it useful I would much rather work on something that in the end is worth the effort.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/28/02 19:36:18 GMT

Okay, so who makes a good hacksaw? The only ones I can find are cheap, usually hold the blade at an angle making it hard to get good cuts.
   - JIM - Thursday, 03/28/02 22:12:25 GMT

I guess it would depend on what you need it for. my saw will easy let me go from makeing a good square cut to the table to profile 1/8" plate in 1 min or so the blade adjustments get all mess up when I go back to useing it as a chop saw. as to the SS I think that the cheep blades I've been useing may be the reason it did't like the stainless.
I have set my saw up and run 300 parts though it with out a problem. the saw IS a pain to set up but for what I spent for it .. it has more than paid for it's self. the only repair it has needed was an adjustment cam that I broke when I forgot to unlock the adjusters before moveing it (I made a new one in about 5 min)
true it has some trouble holding sqaure on any thing biger than 1" and at best I can only hold a +/- 0.010 but then that is all I need it to do.
I would sigest the JET band saw that MSC carrys it is MUCH better built than mine and is very reasonabley priced. had they had it when I droped my last one off the back of the van I would have bought it.

as with all tools what works for some is unuseable by others.
   MP - Thursday, 03/28/02 22:30:28 GMT

Starret makes a good hack saw frame.. or make your own. I made the one I used a demos from 1/2 square (untill I forgot it at a show :( )
   MP - Thursday, 03/28/02 22:34:35 GMT

Guru and all: My experience with ITC-100 has been a good one. I have applied it to the refractory brick and koawool when I reline my NC whisper lowboy. I use 1/2 jar for each relining. It is a good idea to dampen whatever material you plan to coat (I use a small spray bottle). The directions recommend spraying but I apply it with a brush and dab it into place, constantly stirring whats in the jar. Depending on local humidity it takes awhile to dry. I wait at least 48 hours. You know its dry when it turns light gray and has no darker (wet)spots. Flux will consume it like any other refractory, but the sides and top remain relatively clean and last about 6 months in my forge. The bottom sacrificial floor gets changed 3 or 4 times in the same time period. It will flake off if it is bumped with work inside the forge. The benifits I have noticed are a more even heat throughout the forge, 10 psi gets me to welding temp instead of 12 to 15psi, and it protects the firebrick and koawool. I have no connection with the company nor do I recieve any profit. I do have a list of suppliers across the country and I will be glad to provide that info to anyone who e-mails me for it. Its a little expensive but in my opinion, well worth it.
   R Guess - Thursday, 03/28/02 22:51:54 GMT

Is a pottery kiln a great device to use for heat treating?
   - Tod - Thursday, 03/28/02 23:05:51 GMT

Tod, Yes, but they are expensive to operate unless you need most of their capacity. Temperature controls are a must.
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 00:41:50 GMT

ITC-100 Randall, Please, we don't need lists! ;)

You may have missed the fact that we are going to be selling it as soon as I get the pages setup. I have inventory of ITC-100 and ITC-213 on hand now! I was looking for commentary on the product and its uses. I have also gotten reports about other products that we will look into.
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 00:45:35 GMT

JIM, Lenox is a good hacksaw. Try doityourself.com.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/29/02 01:00:25 GMT

Quenching in oil. I tell my people that I use quenching oil, and I usually get a vacuous stare. A few years back, I went to my Texaco distributor, not a filling station, and bought a 55 gallon drum of "quenching oil". It had the trade name of Quenchtex. I think they had at the time, a rapid grade and a slightly slower grade ("A" and "B"?). Back then, I was doing lots of O1 tools. I got the "slow acting", but it's fast enough. The oil has a higher flash and burnoff point than some of the other stuff mentioned, and it has the proper rate of heat abstraction. And warmed up oil quenches a little faster than room temperature oil, because of the change in viscosity. A safety tip that seems to work for me: I try to submerge the whole tool quickly, at least what is red hot. It seems that if you leave a little red heat above the oil level, it wants to flare up.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/29/02 01:19:27 GMT

One thing to be said for a chop saw is blades are more readily available without planning ahead if you live in a small town such as I do, in lovely northern NM
   Aaron - Friday, 03/29/02 01:23:03 GMT

i would apreciate any information anyone could give me about nickle(history, properties, uses, etc.)
   abe - Friday, 03/29/02 01:58:36 GMT

Guru..My humble apoligies. I missed earlier posts about ITC-100 and certainly dont want to take any business away from the Anvilfire Store. I have used it now going on about 4 years and will continue coating the refractories in my NC and the 2 burner design I build from the plans on Ron Reils web site, which is where I first read about ITC products.
   R Guess - Friday, 03/29/02 02:23:33 GMT

Now, in the "old days" (1950s, early '60s) you could still get whale oil for a quenchant! I remember an article playing on the continuous mystique of the quenchant (since at least Roman times all sorts of virtues imparted to the steel were attributed to the quenchant) saying that since whaling and whale products was being banned in the U.S. there would be no more whale oil for traditional blacksmiths to "properly" temper tools.

I keep a small container of bacon grease at the forge for when I'm working small chisels and punches. After heating with a propane torch I quench them in the grease. Ummmmm! Smells like breakfast!

Hoping for rain on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 03/29/02 03:00:36 GMT

Peanut oil has the highest flash point of all the edible oils. That means that it will get to a higher temperature before it starts to smoke. Chinese chefs use it to the exclusion of all other oil. Stir frying should be done at a very high temperature. One trick that chefs use to extend the life of their deep frying oil is to add vitamin E to the oil.
Don't laugh too quickly, there is a reason why. It delays the oil going rancid,(oxidising) thus extending its working life. .
Vitamin E is an anti-oxident. Antioxident chemicals inhibit oxidation by mopping up free oxygen free radicals in the oil solution. (vitamin C does the same thing but itis not oil soluble, so it won't work).
Costco is a good sourse of cheaper vitamin E.
The gel capsules should be opened and the fluid added to the peanutoil. Dispose of the empty gel caps.
Please keep a lid on the oil quenching container to keep out all kinds of floating crud and also animals that could drown in the oil (& make a really smelly mess).Light also speeds up some oxidation reactions, so keep a lid on the container when not in use. A locking device will keep the raccoons away, hopefully.
I am not sure how much vitamin E should be used, per gallon of peanut oil quenching. Experiment and let, all of, us know how much is effective
Support the site, join C.S.I.!!!
Regards To All,
(The snow, up here, is melting; +***&&%.$### at ^++).
   slag - Friday, 03/29/02 03:41:59 GMT

After fighting a losing battle with a family of raccoons over my garbage cans, I am thinking of taking the advice of the old guy next door who tells me, "Use a combination lock. Raccoons are smart but they got no head for figures".
   - adam - Friday, 03/29/02 04:06:16 GMT

Randall, No need to appologize. I often don't read entire posts myself. .
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 05:59:36 GMT

Good Guru;
Graceful and tasteful, if a bit understated and over due,RE dues thank you;
Now , repeat every 15 minutes!
RE quench oil. It is true that old deep-fry oil ( usually peanut oil) will go rancid after a while. There are 2 solutions to this problem.
1...ignore it till the smell goes away in a month or so and it wont bother you again ( not sure if this is cause the smell is gone or because it has overwhelmed my ofactory sensibilities)......or
2..When it ceases to make your shop smell like a cheap deep-fry joint, pour it back in the container and go back to the back of the deep fry and trade it in...might skip the fish fry places, unless you like that sort of thing especially...fish don't generally age well.
Please heed Mr Sundstrom's hard won experience regarding the special aesthetics of quenching in drain oil. I've used drain oil and worse (PCB transformer oil was touted as "inert" with a high flash point and I used it for years. They were right about the high flash point.) So when the excellent Mr Kidwell pointed out the virtues of used fry oil, i was mighty pleased.
Jim; I bought "Rong Fu' the cheapie horizontal bandsaw for $135 years ago and have put 100,000+ miles on it since. It has proved a valuable and versitile adjunct.It has never cut accurately, but it cuts. An old used one of good quality is a better choice if available as the Guru notes. The Milwaulkee chop saw I recently bought is an inadaquate piece of ( fill in the expletive) and a waste of $. Milwaukee was bought by some huge company and the products have gone downhill badly.
Sometime I'll tell you what I really think about that.
Using an abraisive wheel in a skillsaw is tough on the saw but works and kinda slow...get a swap-meet special for that duty.
LOL...hurray Slag I like the vitamin E solution!
There now, we have provided you with enough contradictory opinions to illustrate the point that in blacksmithing there are generally a buncha ways to solve most problems and in the process, make yet more problems .
   Pete F - Friday, 03/29/02 08:20:49 GMT

Quenchants. . . time for a FAQ. .
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 09:03:07 GMT

   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 09:13:08 GMT

thanks for the button:-)
   - OErjan - Friday, 03/29/02 10:55:49 GMT

My favorite "hacksaw" for rough work is a 36" Sandvik bowsaw frame with a piece of metal cutting bandsaw blade for the blade---make the mounting holes a bit closer in than on the wood cutting blades so you get more tension out of the saw.

Handy thing to have behind the seat in the truck when you can'c carry O-A with you to a scrapyard...

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/29/02 14:46:20 GMT

Cold-Galvanizing: Guru, I am following your advice in regard to the proper steps involved in doing a good paint job. I got some of the CRC "Zinc-It" product in an aerosol can. I applied 2 light thin even coats to the metal which I had buffed "very" clean. I am concerned because 2 days after I applied the zinc, the product does not seem to have adhered/bonded to the metal. I can take may thumb nail and peel a ribbon of the zinc layer off as easy as I please. I was wiping the part with a rag getting so of the zinc powdery residue off so I could start applying my primer and the zinc was coming off down to bare metal with little rubbing effort. Is this correct or should it be bonding tight to the metal? I am concerned that the primer and top coat won't stick/bond if the zinc dosen't bond? I just hate to put all this work into a piece not knowing if it is right. Thanks for your help.
   Greg - Friday, 03/29/02 15:10:12 GMT

Ok i've read a bunch of articles about making armor now. They constantly say things about swage blocks and how they made theirs out of wood and things like that. What they dont tell me is HOW they got the holes in the block =)
I've tried a lot of things to get the bowl shapes into the wood but i can't seem to figure it out. Help?
   Matt - Friday, 03/29/02 15:48:08 GMT

Greg, I always recommend sandblasting for cleaning, if not that then a chemical clean. If you wire brushed then the wire brush may have spread oil or wax from the last thing it had been used upon. Wire brushing also tends to smear graphite from the scale on the surface of the work.

After mechanical cleaning a chemical clean can be done with (a non-oily) soap and water followed by washing with a dilute solution of liquid bleach and then rinsing.

The zinc paint is not very strong but it should not scrape of. However, it WILL scratch easily. It is mostly zinc powder with minimal binder. The top coats are necessary to seal it and provide a hard surface.

On a sandblasted gate that doubles as a ladder (by design), having 1/2" square "rungs", I used CRC Zinc-it, Dupont red-oxide lacquer primer and a brush coat of black exterior enamel. The "ladder" has been climbed up and down many times and the paint is holding up well. The top coat has been renewed once in 15 years due to moss growing on some of the surface paint and residue. . . Its THAT damp here. . .

Prior to that paint job the gate had been cleaned and painted by the "usual" methods. Chip off the welding slag and hand wire brush the scale, then brush on some paint. During its first 5 years as rust spots appeared they were wire brushed and more paint applied. After 5 years of no maintenance it was a flaking rust pitted mess. . .

The repaint is now 17 years old using the same top coat (the gate is 27 years old). It has required touchup only because of the use and location. If it were someplace where it got some sun to dry it and keep moss from growing AND it was not used as a ladder it would have required NO maintenence in the last 17 years.

The only problem with sandblasting and using zinc paint is that they are identical in color.

Recently on my old flat bed Ford truck that has some rust problems on open areas (grill, middle of hood). I roughly cleaned with a wire brush and sandpaper, I then treated the rusted areas with "Ospho" (Phosphoric acid). I let that dry then rinsed off excess at a car wash then painted with zinc paint. Since then it has been driven several hundred miles and sat out all winter in our damp creek bottom. The paint should have been sealed but the weather turned cold and I ran out of money (Its a big 1978 F-600 and needs more important things like TIRES). So far most of the rust has stopped. The only placeds treated that are showing rust are where the flaking paint was not removed well enough.

It was not the "right" way to do the job but it seems to have done the job. A lot of people swear by Ospho but I am not completely convinced. But it is better than nothing.

When I get around to painting my truck I'll scrub the body with an abrasive cleanser like Comet (or like Comet used to be). This is to remove the chalking paint and any grease or oil. Its one of the few types of cleaners suitable for this work. After that I will sand and clean up applying zinc paint to the problem areas again before priming. . .

But before I get to that point there is still a lot of serious rust to repair.

The point? There are things that work and things that don't. Cleanliness, REALLY clean, not just dusted off, is the most important prerequisite to any paint.
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 16:16:32 GMT

Matt you have some choices you can usea chisel and a hammer and ruff it out, or an adz (kind of like a axe faceing the wrong way on an angle) then there is the easiest method heat a peice of plate in the forge and hammer away. the heat will burn out the wood and leave you with a nice rounded dish shape.
   MP - Friday, 03/29/02 16:20:58 GMT

Wood Blocks: Matt, I'm going to be a little hard on you here. Working wood, especialy rough work, is infinitely easier than metal work. But like any work it takes the right tools and techniques. Sculpting wood is EASY. Carving stone is HARD. Carving solid steel is the hardest. .

1) Swage depressions in wood are best in the end grain (top and bottom ends of a log or stump).

2) The biggest mistake swage designers make is using too deep a "bowl". A shallow depression with the right curve will perform much better than a deep depression.

3) There are numerous ways to make the depressions.

a) Using a wood carving gouge (a "U" shaped blade) and mallet carve the depression. Drawing a circle with a compass helps. A template made of wood, metal, cardboard is also useful if you don't have a good "eye" for curves.

b) Use the end of a chainsaw. VERY fast. They also make chainsaw chain wraped wheels for 4-1/2" angle grinders that are VERY handy.

c) Use an angle grinder with the regular fiber abrasive metal cutting wheel. It WILL cut wood.

d) Burn the depression. Heat a piece of steel in your forge and use it to form the depression. When a smith needs to make a spoon they often shape the oval or round shape and then using a ball-pien just work it in the end grain of a block of wood (sometimes their anvil stand). The needed depression forms as the work is made. The depression is reused until it is too deep or big and then another is used.

You could also use a torch to char the wood and then scrape it out with any suitable scraper. Stone age man is said to have done this using stone tools and building a fire on the surface. Dugout canoes are made this way today. But a chainsaw is faster.

e) Using a 7-1/2" circular saw carefully plunge cut to about 1/2" to 3/4", then rotate about 15 and do it again. Scrape out the chips and work with a chisle, scraper or gouge.

I could have cut your bowl depressions in the time it took to write this.

To use primitive methods you need skills in more than one area OR know people that do. Wood working is a basic skill for all crafts people. Everything from using an axe and froe up to scrapers and fret saws.
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 16:39:34 GMT

I'm trying to find some information about building a tumbler. Does anybody have any info., plans etc. Thanks.
   - John C. - Friday, 03/29/02 18:47:19 GMT

   ROGER LILLEMOEN - Friday, 03/29/02 20:17:24 GMT

Crane Beams: Roger, You are asking questions that engineers get paid big bucks to answer. And in most states they must be a licensed Professional Engineer to legaly answer those questions.

I'm not a PE but I am a design engineer and I will answer one theoretical case. Crane beams are limited by deflection, not stress. The beam must not deflect more than 1/4" inch in the center when loaded. Otherwise your trolley will roll to the center and stay there. OR move there on its own, a dangerous situation.

Each "size" beam comes in dozens of sections desiginated by weight. A 6" beam can weigh from 8.5 pounds to 25 pounds per foot. You have to carefully look at the beam and measure the flange thickness, web thickness height and width to decimal tolerances to determine exactly what you have (or weigh it accurately and take general dimensions).

In a 16 foot span (192") a W6x25 beam will deflect .2146" carrying 2000# at its center.. A W6x20 (the next size down) is over the deflection limit. So the most any 6" beam will safely carry over that span is a little over 2000 pounds.

Beam selection is a trial and error process requiring long calculations for each section. Computer programs speed up the process but you must still manualy select the beam that fits the criteria and understand the conditions.

How your beam is mounted is also critical. Normally you do not want to add stress to the beam by ridgidly mounting the ends. It is best if it sets on something it can pivot back and forth on. All it takes is a welder with uneducated ideas about what is strong to make something TOO rigid and the next thing you know it is broken. . . Every case is different.
   - guru - Friday, 03/29/02 23:42:23 GMT

Tumblers: John, We have built a couple. There is always some trial and error involved.

1) If the drum turns too fast the work goes up too high and falls across the drum hammering the other parts.

2) If the drum turns too slow the parts slide on the bottom and wears on side of the part to a curve. . .

3) There are dozens of grades of tumbler media (small shaped pieces of abrasive like pieces of grindstone) and each has its advantages and best use.

4) To keep from generating a lot of dust the media is kept moistened. A non-foaming detergent aditive is used. Try plain soap and and you shop will end up looking like an epsiode of "I Love Lucy" with clouds of suds. . .

The better commercial tumblers have octogon drums. For large work they are horizontal with a door. For small work their axis is set at an angle so that parts can be put in and taken out while the drum turns.

The octogon shape helps induce true tumbling and effects the speed the tumbler runs. They can run faster but not too much so.

For tumbling soft parts like aluminium or brass the drum needs to be lined with rubber.

The last tumbler my dad built used automotive tires for the "drums" and they ran on a free roller and a driven roller. Approximate speed was 10 RPM or a little less. It worked great but the parts kept falling out the openings. It needed covers to keep the parts in. For fine finishing of alloy aluminium he ended up using 320 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper cut up like fine confetti and running with a little water and detergent. . . . after having bought several large containers of various media. . .

The turning speed is probably a ratio of the feet per minute and the diameter. Parts want to tumble at about 90 to 100 degrees and not go higher (or all the way around). Maybe one of our engineers that is more up to date on physics may want to supply a formulae. . .

   - guru - Saturday, 03/30/02 00:11:10 GMT

I was recently given a buffalo forge with blower. Unfortunatly the main drive gear is broken into three pieces. Does any one know where I can get a replacment gear or have any idea about the specs. The pieces I have measure 4 5/8" across and I think 7 TPI.
   Jacob Langthorn - Saturday, 03/30/02 01:55:49 GMT

John C, Tumbler: I built a tumbler out of a 50 gal drum. Very simple, weld a 5/8" rod throught the center (sticking out at both ends). Next purchase pillow block bearings at Graingers. Build a frame for the thing (with wheels) and put a 12 rpm geared motor on the end (with a chain and sprocket) A V-belt will slip. Line it with rubber or your ears will never forgive you. Cut a hole in the side and build a simple lid with locking clamps and rubber gaskets otherwise the fluid will leak. Great for small items. No need to wire brush, just throw the stuff in and walk away. 10 minutes later their done. Well worth the effort to build, saves a TON of time. I'll look up the supplier for the fluid and tumbling media if you want more info. TC
   Tim Cisneros - Saturday, 03/30/02 02:32:33 GMT

I own a small antique shop in Johnson City Texas and a fella just brought me a Schaller No. 82, Model of 1910 portable forge to sell for him. I have looked on the web and there appears to be very little info on this forge. Can you direct me somewhere for information. I would like to sell it for him but need to know about what it is worth and the best venue for selling it. I sell on eBay but I am not sure that is the best place for this item. It is in wonderful condition and I kinda feel like it really belongs in a museum of sorts. Any information would be helpful. Thanks
   Linda - Saturday, 03/30/02 02:52:58 GMT

Linda, Never heard of a "Schaller". The problem is that in the early 20th century every hardware company, foundry or ironworks often manufactured their own line of equipment. There is a lot known of the big makers but the little companies or low production outfits are hard to research.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/30/02 03:10:34 GMT

Worthy Guru.
I am now using a new email address.
How do I go about fixing all my connect info with anvilfire?

   Ralph - Saturday, 03/30/02 17:19:58 GMT

Ralph, just let me know and I update your CSI and chat records.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/30/02 18:03:30 GMT

I live Close to Jacksonville, Florida. And I would like to know where and how to contact and get some quality heat treating coal for a reasonable price. I am 16 and have just started knife forgeing and finding a big intrest in it. I have a homemade forge and some tools from my great great uncle. And I have found out that charcol can not produce the amount of heat required to hammer knife metal. I am a real begginer at this but I have a lot of intrest for this and would like some help. -Thankyou
   Chris Aubrey - Saturday, 03/30/02 23:48:30 GMT

I bought a platen table thursday, very old, 72"X52".$300 made a stand & got it placed this morning. After a thorough de-mossing and de-greasing, i've found it's crowned about the long axis, I can put 3/16 shims on both ends, and the straight edge just touches in the middle. I just spent 2 hours with a big recessed cup wheel on my 9-inch grinder, and although it's very shiny in the area i've been working, i don't thinke i've influenced the crown at all.Every ten minutes or so, I take a diamond point and groove the cup wheel like a phono record, thinking it will cut faster with relief grooves. I don't want to use a flat wheel, because i think it would dish out channels in the table. I do fabricated railing for a living, and the whole idea in this table is to have a flat rock to build from. any thoughts?
   mike-hr - Sunday, 03/31/02 00:12:46 GMT

Thanks for the information on tumblers! I'll see what I can do.
   - john c. - Sunday, 03/31/02 00:18:59 GMT

I have been researching a computer controlled plasma cutting machine manufactured by the Plasma Cam Co. I was wondering if you or anyone else might know anything about these machines. I would also like to see one in operation if there is someone near the central Kentucky area that would be able to accomodate me. My company manufactures outdoor lawn and garden decorations. Any help would be appreciated.Thank you for your time.

Joe Mattingly
Spotted Dog Metalworks
65 Gabes Lane
Loretto, Ky. 40037
   Joe Mattingly - Sunday, 03/31/02 03:24:40 GMT

Guru,when treating metal with zinc paint, primer and a top coat... if this process is done properly how long would you expect a piece would go before it needs to be retreated or touched up? Also I have been told that any thing you are going to use for food should be treated with vegetable oil. Is there a certain type that is better than others? Is this applied the first time with the metal warmed in an oven -what temp? Also can you explain a bit about quenching oil what are the advantages? Thanks
   - Wendy - Sunday, 03/31/02 03:37:27 GMT

Coal and Charcoal: Chris, Charcoal was used to smelt iron for millinia and is still used by smiths for everything including forging high alloy tool and cutlery steels.

Charcoal briquetts ARE NOT charcoal. They are a mix of sawdust (hickory or mesquite for flavor), ground charcoal, bituminous coal (yummy sulfur to keep the fire burning) and starch glue. The sawdust and glue reduce the fuel value and produce a lot more ash than pure charcoal.

However, it WILL work with a deep enough fire. Green wood will produce forge welding heats if deep enough and air is blown on it. . but the smoke is horrible.

You can make your own charcoal from wood (Florida pine is OK). See our FAQs page.

For local supplies of coal contact the Florida Artist Blacksmith Association (FABA). You will find then on our ABANA-Chapter.com page. You will probably find that they make bulk purchases and split it up. The alternative is to order coal from Kayne and Son or Wallace Metal Work. Centaur Forge also carries coal by the bag but they are much farther away and shipping would be more.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/31/02 04:12:37 GMT

Platen Crown Mike, I have found this to be the norm on unmachined plattens. Mine has the same crown or more and its only 48" x 48". If you want it FLAT you will have to pay someone with a big planner or turret lathe to machine it flat. It will cost $70/hr for about a day's machining time. It will still be cheap compared to new.

Ah. . if you calculate the amount of material to be removed you will find that you may not live long enough to do it with a grinder. . . A big cold chisle will move the metal faster. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/31/02 04:20:05 GMT

A Proper Paint Job: Wendy, It should last 20 years minimum and then only the surface should have degraded enough to need a new top coat (or washing and waxing). After 30 to 40 years it may need to be stripped and repainted depending on the environment.

Coating Utensils: Actually food grade mineral oil would be the best thing to put on forged iron that is going to be for food handling. There would be too little to cause any problems (they DO use it to keep bread from sticking to pans in bakeries). Any vegetable oil is likely to become rancid or worse. Folks that manufacture wood cutting boards oil them with mineral oil.

If you use a "burnt oil" finsh, it should be cleaned afterward and then lightly oiled with the same oil.

I just posted a FAQ on quenchants, largely based on the above posts. "Quenching oil" is mearly a non-additive petroleum oil that has no light oil in it to increase the flash point. The reason for using it rather than automotive oil is the additives in motor oil include cadnium and various exotic solvents. The most commonly available alternative is the same mineral oil mentioned above. However, you can use perfumed "baby oil" for quenching but not for coating eating utensils.

Industry is moving away from using oil due to flamability and disposal problems. The polymer quenching media are a thick water. The thickening reduces the fluidity of the water and thus the rate it can carry off heat. It replaces oil and is non-flamable. However, I have no experiance with it and do not know if its affordable for small shops.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/31/02 04:42:01 GMT

Just read about pouring water on charcoal to extinguish it, NOT good.
True it WILL work almost as well as before when dry, BUT the water soluble parts of the ashes, K2CO3 to name one (potash), will soak back in and give more ashes than usual AND cause extra sparking (not sure why).
Just a comment.
   OErjan - Sunday, 03/31/02 12:14:23 GMT

Touchmarks can be ordered from Kayne & Son, an advertiser here on Anvilfire.
   - GRANT - Sunday, 03/31/02 16:22:54 GMT

Grant, I thought I had heard you were making touchmarks but did not know that the Kaynes were handling them. I should have guessed. . . I will suggest that they put something on their web page to that effect.

OErjan, I will re-write that (or add your note). My comment was that if the charcoal burning got out of control, the fire could be extinguished. It was not a recommended method.

That reminds me. I once knew a smith that used lump coke (smaller than foundry coke but larger than smithing coke). He obtained it for free. The coke was used in a water conditioning process to remove iron from water at a soft drink bottling plant. The plant had been paying to dispose of the coke by the ton. The iron compounds on the coke didn't seem to make any difference. But for FREE, who can complain?
   - guru - Sunday, 03/31/02 17:27:16 GMT

All of the propane forges i've seen have the burner entering through the side at a 90 deg. angle. Is there any reason the burner cannot enter straight in through the bottom of the forge?
   jarhead - Sunday, 03/31/02 18:00:51 GMT

John C.
I really appreciated the demo you put on for the for the Blue Ridge Guild. I've thought alot about volume basis calculation and have employed some of the tools Roger and you showed us to great advantage but haven't made a slicker yet.
I have a tumbler that I have been thinking of turning into of a pig roaster. It's a home made job, worked well, but just didn't ever become a member of the shop. If you're back up this way anytime soon maybe you could spare its life. I don't think you would have any trouble making one but getting it to turn slow enough is the trick. This one had a geared down motor which now turns a very nice Champion blower.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and ways up here,
   L.Sundstrom - Sunday, 03/31/02 18:42:39 GMT


My demonstration schedule is listed on my home page. Look at the left side menu for it.

I'd be more than happy to see any of the folks who either read or post here. Heck, I might even hand you a hammer and say "Make something!" (grin)
   Paw Paw Wilson - Sunday, 03/31/02 19:01:25 GMT

The above was Paw-Paw's weak attempt at asking for HELP. He will be in Union City, TN April 26 - 27. After the LONNNG trip out he will need a helper. I would do it but the show won't pay for the extra travel costs. However, I will be at the Museum of Appalachia October 9 - 13 with Paw-Paw.

Its a great chance to use a Great Double Chambered Bellows and a rather nifty forging setup, if I DO say so myself ;)

Paw-Paw's Schedule

   - guru - Sunday, 03/31/02 21:52:05 GMT

Forge Burners Jarhead, Actually oil and gas burners enter from all sorts of angles. Many enter from the sides. Most from the top. Some enter at an angle and are flush to the surface to give a swirling path to the flame.

A bottom entering burner is problematic. Debris and small hot pieces of steel will fall in the burner and cause problems. Try fishing a small part out of a blasting burner. The first gas forge I built a was "trough" type forge. It worked fine for heating the ends of long bars but small pieces would fall into the forge. Even with the burner turned off, reaching in to fish out the parts was too hot. . would set your gloves on fire even though you were using tongs.

Forges with atmospheric (gas venturi) burners generaly enter from the top or side at a downward angle because propane is a heavy gas. A leaking or poorly operating burner will still "pour" its fuel into the forge rather than on the floor. However, there ARE commercial units that the gas is injected into the venturi straight UP. But then the pipe turns and enters the top or side.

Small forges blow down on the work making a hot spot in the center of the forge.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/31/02 21:44:19 GMT

makes good sense, thank you. Function takes precedence over ease of design.
   jarhead - Sunday, 03/31/02 23:13:15 GMT

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