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

This is an archive of posts from March 1 - 8, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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While gas forges with blowers generally are higher BTU than atmospheric and may use more gas, it's not a requirement. I currently make a little (5" X 5" X 11") gas forge that uses a blower, gets welding heat easy and runs on around 1/4 pound of propane per hour for general work. Dosen't even frost up a 20lb. propane bottle running all day. It's still in beta testing, not quite ready for prime time. I like to use a blower because it just makes everything easier to adjust. I've never had the "tuning problems" I read so much about on atmospherics. Working with positive rather than negative pressures is always easier. A few watts of electricity sure makes life easy. With a blower you can "brick up" the forge pretty tight without screwing up the burner. Beyond getting the fuel/air mix into the forge, there are a lot of other design considerations that have a profound effect on the performance of a forge.
   - Grant - Saturday, 03/01/03 01:14:26 GMT

This website has plans for a hossfeld type bender:

   Ries - Saturday, 03/01/03 01:26:39 GMT

1,000 pound anvil dims: Info was sent to Ben.

Best route was to scale up a large anvil. He has a 350.

Since the weight goes up by the cube of the increase in scale we divide the wanted weight by the weight of the known item. Then we take the cube root of the multiplier. This is the scaling factor.

(350 x 2.857 = 1000), Cube root of 2.857x = 1.42x

   - guru - Saturday, 03/01/03 01:30:33 GMT

Adam; probably about 2 hours from me. I live in Point on the northeast corner of Lake Tawakoni. 20 miles south of Greenville.
   BLADES - Saturday, 03/01/03 01:37:52 GMT

I never did understand the appeal of a hollow ground blade. A flat grind is much easier to keep sharp and will not grind away as fast as a hollow ground blade. It is, however, harder to do correctly. Just my humble opinion.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/01/03 01:48:54 GMT

Grills and forges. This was bothering me, so I looked around a little. Gas grills seem to start at 30,000 BTU and go up to 60K or more. Ron Reil's page says his standard burner will go up to 200K BTU, but that he does most of his work at 60K or less. It seems at least possible that a blown forge could be made to work in some fashion with a BBQ regulator and an appropriate orifice. You would, of course, need a lot more pressure than a BBQ regulator can put out to run an atmospheric burner.
   Mike B - Saturday, 03/01/03 03:05:04 GMT

Bob Harasim, check out www.balconesforge.org. It's the organization I belong to. We have a meeting the last saturday of the month. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Saturday, 03/01/03 06:13:36 GMT

FYI, also on the Balcones Forge web site is a demo? of a home built grinder. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Saturday, 03/01/03 06:25:40 GMT

On Bender plans.
Many, many thanks!!! That is just what I was looking for.
   kdbarker - Saturday, 03/01/03 07:44:20 GMT

Quenchcrack, off the top of the pointy, probably not all, and some may not agree. Hollow grind benefits.... 1. Easier to keep flat on the stone(less tandency to rock). 2. Faster to sharpen to a given angle. 3. Less tearout/splitout in some work due to lower chip angle from the work. 4. Easier cutting for some knife work due to less wedge action.

But as has been said, to each his own. grin. If we all liked the same thing, it sure would be boring. And diferent work shows different advantages and disadvantages.

I never did much hollow grinding in the beginning. Now I hollow grind much of the wood stuff. But not all. It sure makes the work easier on hard woods for timber framing. Big framing chisels.

   - Tony - Saturday, 03/01/03 12:57:08 GMT

Tony, good points. I tend to think exclusively in terms of thin blades typical of woodcarving knives. You will never see a hollow ground woodcarving blade because the shoulder of the hollow grind limits the ability of the knife to shave thin slices of wood. Blades for butcher knives are flat ground to prevent the shoulder from having to wedge open the cut. However, I will admit to owning several hollow ground blades for other work. All a matter of application, I guess.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/01/03 13:40:10 GMT

JWG. Thanks for the info. I'll check out the site and maybe get to meet you in July.
   Bob Harasim - Saturday, 03/01/03 14:07:09 GMT

JWG, nice site. But about that pet carrier? :]
   Bob Harasim - Saturday, 03/01/03 14:33:52 GMT

I have come across 20 old grader blades from the department of transportation(for $0.00 which is a great price). I have seen this question posted but have never found an answer. IN GENERAL, and without holding peoples feet to the fire, what kind of steel are they? 1095? D1? I do know from the spark test that they are high in carbon. Thanks for the help...
   tom - Saturday, 03/01/03 14:41:21 GMT

BBQ regulator - with a blown system you dont really have to have a high pressure orifice. I know of a forge that reaches weldinging heat on < 1 psi uses a 1/4" aperture for the gas. But you still need some way to control the gas.

   adam - Saturday, 03/01/03 15:47:29 GMT

Are there designs for making shears online anywhere? I want to cut sheet metal and up to 5/8 square stock, so I will need a couple of designs. Did anyone see my post about the rusted round stock up there on the board? Thanks much.
   andrew - Saturday, 03/01/03 15:58:37 GMT


If the steel is pitted mildly enough that the pits forge out, then that's just what I'd do. After cooking the rust in the forge and wire brushing it, of course.

Any number of good smiths never use any stock in its from-the-mill form, but rather forge it to a new cross-section or at least surface forge it. The resulting work looks better if you can't see stock sections anywhere, they feel. I tend to agree with them. Heat it and beat it until it has a nice relatively uniform surface appearance and whatever you make out of it will look just fine.

As for making it look "better" with primer and paint, that won't really work. The sironfy of painting is this: If you want the paint to show the surface detail, it invariably will hide it, and if you want it to cover surface flaws, it invariably magnifies them. The old saying, "Putty and paint will make it what it ain't," only works if you use filler and sand it level before painting. Yes, you can use Bondo on iron work, but why would you want to? Prep the stock before you start forming, and the end result will be visually pleasing even if it has a few minor pits still showing. Then paint it properly, (as has been detailed here many times) and enjoy it.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/01/03 18:07:04 GMT


You're quite right about pressure, I've run large forges on natural gas @ just a few ounces of pressure. Sometimes I see people talking about the psi their forge runs at and it is totally meaningless except to compare nearly identical forges. That's why I like to measure consumption in pounds (weight) per hour.

The little forge I was refering to uses a vacuum formed shell of ceramic fiber and a binder. Suitable only for production quantities. Burner looks sorta like a large (2 1/4 inch dia.) cutting tip with a 5/8 hole in the center and seven 1/4 inch holes around it. Solid stainless and it hardly discolors. A burner like that is also very quiet. Kayne & Son might be carrying them by summer, we'll see.
   - grant - Saturday, 03/01/03 20:09:46 GMT


Contact me off list, please. Or send me your 800 number again, I've lost it.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/01/03 21:39:25 GMT

Grant - Well and fine that you prefer your blower. I prefer my atmospheric. I would rather not be tied to a power outlet. An experienced blacksmith that started work at the same company I do has offered to lend me some of his expertise, but he just moved and "just needed to get the shop wired." He has been cold for 8 months now, as he and the local electrical company are arguing.

I am working in a setting with no convenient electricity, and not being hindered in the least.
   Monica - Saturday, 03/01/03 21:54:25 GMT

Grant: your forge sounds really intriguing! How about making a kit to convert atmospherics, like my Whisper Baby, into a blown forge so I can finally forge weld something? Of course, then it wouldn't whisper but perhaps we can find a new name for it. Holler Baby? Screaming MiMi? Whimper Baby? Whisper Baby NS (non-suck)? I went back and re-read the advertising copy and it clearly states that it will easily reach forging temperature. Uh-huh.....right. For that purpose, I guess it is an FSO.............
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/01/03 23:44:03 GMT

Hey guys guess what I found. I found an antique charcoal forge. you know the cast iron kind? Its probably 2feet by 4 feet by maybe 4 feet high. Needs legs but I could fix it. Also it has a foot pump air pump. What Do you think it is worth.
   BLADES - Sunday, 03/02/03 00:03:09 GMT


How much is a pig in a poke. (grin) There's not enough information with your question. Who made it? Does it have a patent number or date and if so, what are they? Can you take and scan pictures?
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/02/03 00:44:00 GMT

PawPaw; yeah Im ignorant about somethings. Ill have to check on monday. I think Im going to buy it and use it.
   BLADES - Sunday, 03/02/03 00:50:55 GMT


I understand and have no argument with what you want to do. I do find it hard to picture a blacksmith shop without electricity, even drilling a 1/4 inch hole is a lot of work. I don't tell people what THEY should do, just what I do and why. Everyone has reasons for why they do something a certain way. OBTW do you light your house with candles? Just curious.
   - grant - Sunday, 03/02/03 00:58:33 GMT


This IS a kit! You throw away everything that doesn't look like my forge (that'ed be everything) and replace it with with everything that does! As I talked about earlier, how you get the gas/air into the forge is just the start. Didn't you ever study comprehensive design technology AKA Buckyism (or is it Fullerism?)? The best way to convert your forge to a blown one is with a 1/4 stick of stumping powder!
   - grant - Sunday, 03/02/03 01:08:49 GMT


Jeesh, It's only stamped on every tong I make. You show me yours and I'll show you mine! O.K., O.K. Got your pencil? (800)993-6744. Or nakedanvil@attbi.com soon to be @comcast.net.
   - grant - Sunday, 03/02/03 01:19:42 GMT

How much electricity? About three years ago, I visited Venice, Italy, and had the opportunity to see the school blacksmith shop on the island of San Servolo. It is part of a larger school called "Venice Eutopean Centre for the Skills of Architectural Heritage Conservation". Alfred Habermann shows up on occasion to give short courses. As I recall, there were four forges, three anvils, three leg vises, and a wall rack of hand tools. I talked to one of the senior students, since Habermann was home in Austria. I asked the guy if they had a drill press or power hammer. He said that thay did not, because they were doing traditional conservation work. Their one consession to modernity was a pistol drill with wire wheel clamped in one of the vises.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/02/03 01:50:36 GMT


I didn't intend to imply that you are ignorant. Far from it. Just that you didn't give us enough information to be able to help you.


Duh! Never even thought to look at the tongs. See Blades, you're not the only one that makes mistakes. (wry grin)
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/02/03 01:56:32 GMT

I'm just starting out doing a little blacksmithing in my school's glassblowing facility, but the kilns that we use aren't available for my use very much. I'm really interested in the brake drum forge in the plans section, but there is no way for me to get coal here (I live in Hawaii). I was wondering if there was a way to either a) run this forge design off of propane or b) run it off of wood/charcoal. Any suggestions in this vein would be really helpful.
   T.Gold - Sunday, 03/02/03 06:09:48 GMT


I can't imagine any way you could convert the brake drum forge to propane, although Ron Reil has the plans for a nifty "mini-freon can forge" that runs on propane if you are gas-inclined. I've used lump charcoal (not the briquette variety, which has green sawdust, sand and all manner of other crap in it to make it burn more slowly) in my forge when coal or coke isn't on hand. It works fine. Many grocery stores and Wal-Mart type places carry it. You just have to break it up into a more consistent and useable size (some of the lumps are huge!). I suspect that making your own charcoal is probably not an option. From my time in Hawaii, I recall that trees were practically sacred.

Good luck in your smithing ventures!

   eander4 - Sunday, 03/02/03 07:42:37 GMT


If you're going to use the brake-drum forge with charcoal, try to find a pretty deep brake drum to make it out of, or use the bottom cut off of an old propane cylinder. I live in the Virgin Islands, where there is no coal either, and my solid-fuel forge is made for wood charcoal. You need a deeper fire with charcoal than with mineral coal, in order to get sufficient heat. About 8" deep works okay for me.

I mostly use a propane forge, and have built a few of them. If you have access to welding equipment, they're not at all difficult to make. The glassblowing studio may have much of what you need in the way of insulating refractories to make a very satisfactory one.

I have never tried it (yet), but I believe a decent propane-fired forge could be made from a brake drum, using a bottom-fed blower driven burner and heaping the firepot with lava rock. The flame would heat the rock and the steel could be put into a small "cave" in the rock for heating. Like a gas grill on steroids, sort of. You have lots of lava, so it might be worth a try. No volcanos here, so it may be a long time before I ever try it. If you want, I'll do a drawing of the concept and email it to you or post it on the pictures site.

While you're getting into smithing is a great time to join CSI, the Anvilfire members' group, and help support this great site. Where else can you get this much information this easily? Click on the Cyber Smiths International link to get more info and to sign up.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/02/03 14:02:54 GMT

Grant -

Yes I use electricity in the house... and in the cold-work shop garage. However, not where I do my hot work, which is my point. As for not telling others what they should do, that's cool, but then PLEASE DON'T SHOUT ABOUT HOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING SUCKS. It tends to get backs up. Especially with stuborn what-nots like me .
   Monica - Sunday, 03/02/03 16:16:16 GMT

Hmmm, I added a to the end of that, but it's not showing on my screen.
   Monica - Sunday, 03/02/03 16:20:37 GMT


If it's a grin that is missing, you have to type it like this. (grin) HTML characters are turned off in the guru's forum.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/02/03 17:27:03 GMT

rusty steel
one other option is to use it on something that the pitted surface will look good vine work comes to mind, with the right kind of pitting it can give the affect of bark.
   MP - Sunday, 03/02/03 17:31:19 GMT

I have a gas forge similar to what VIC described. It's still experimental but it works very well. However I dont recommend it for someone building his first gas forge. Stick with a commonplace well proven design like the R Reil freon tank forge. There will be plenty of supporting information on the web and people here will be able to help you troubleshoot it.

Although they are simple to construct, gas forges can be a bit tricky to operate properly until one has some experience. Most people have little experience with gas burners of this size or of temperatures in this range. A little experience will confer a lot of insight

I agree with Monica - shouting just pi**es people off and makes them less inclined to listen. It rarely helps to get the point across
   adam - Sunday, 03/02/03 17:39:37 GMT


Sorry if it looked that way. It was just meant as the title for my post and SUCKS referred to how atmospheric forges bring in air (not that I'm above double meanings, mind you).

I have seen atmospheric forges that perform well, it just seems to take a lot of fiddling to get there. AND (I also use caps for emphasis as I don't have italics) AND if there are other problems in the design, no amount of tweeking with the burner will fix it. If your forge works well, I congratulate you.

This tends to be a rather cold means of communication. I don't wish to put down anyone or hurt anyone. If I offended you, I'm sorry. BOG
   - grant - Sunday, 03/02/03 18:38:12 GMT

Hayes -

I just read your question of a few days ago. There is a new Blacksmithing group forming in Southern BC, the Fraser Valley Blacksmith's Association. Next meeting is March 22 in Chilliwack. Email me for more info. lgray@vcn.bc.ca
   Lorne G - Sunday, 03/02/03 20:28:25 GMT

Blades - My first coal forge was a Champion cast iron farrier/rivet forge. I paid $160 for it and don't consider it a bad amount of money. Then I built a similar design using scrap metal from around our farm (main components being a plow disk and a cast iron T-pipe) in less than an hour with my brother's help that actually works better for what I do than the manufactured one! Cost was a bit of time, some acetylene and oygen, and some welding rod. If the blower is in good shape, that would be a major selling point on your forge. If the cast iron is cracked, that is a detriment.

By the way, brand will give some idea of initial quality. That is why Paw Paw was wondering. Kind of like a car's initial quality will vary depending on whether it is a Yugo, a Chevy, or a Rolls Royce.

Solid-fuel forges are simple (not to be confused with easy)once you understand the requirements.

T. Gold - An alternative to the brake drum/plow disk forge designed for bladesmithing (but by no means limited to blades) using charcoal can be found at www.livelyknives.com

It's made out of a washtub and some plumbing.
   - Stormcrow - Sunday, 03/02/03 20:35:34 GMT

Shops Without Electric Power: Lots of folks do it but it is a difficult way to go. Actually drilling a 1/4" hole with a good hand crank drill press is not bad but is a REAL chore otherwise. I drilled a couple with the hand crank drill yesterday because my drill press in my old shop still needs a motor from the last flood. . . :(

Shops without electric power are great excersizes in self reliance but are not enonomical and cannot compete. Using propane also puts a kink in the self reliance angle. Grinding, wire brushing, buffing and polishing all are infinitely more efficient with just a very little electric power to run 1/4 and 1/3HP motors. I've drilled hundreds of little 3/16 and 3/8" holes with the hand crank drill but when you get above 1/2" you REALLY learn what horsepower is all about and that your arms cannot compete with a little 1/3 HP motor for more than a few seconds.

For at least a year while I was working full time I hack sawed EVERYTHING with my HD hand forged hack saw. I have a photo of a fellow sawing a piece of 180 pound rail road rail with a heavy saw! It CAN be done but is slow and blades are expensive. A little cutoff saw can cut 100 times the amount of material per dollar of blade cost and do it 10 to 20 times faster than a human. My little 4x6" power saw revolutionized my shop and paid for itself in a few months.

I also used a bellows on my coal forge for YEARS. A wonderful tool and a joy to use. . but not very efficeint. A busy smith requires a full time helper to pull the bellows all day long. A little 1/10 HP motor running a blower that uses only pennies worth of power a day can do the same work as that that helper.

A 1/2HP to 1HP motor on a small power hammer can replace a striker. Now that striker COULD be the same person that pulls the bellows all day. . . but that helper is going to cost 1000 times more than the the electricity and the motors. . .

Electricly operated machines have been the greatest boon to the small craftsperson since the invention of fire. A couple small motors that can run on a 10ga extension cord can replace half a dozen workers doing everything manualy and at a cost less than feeding those helpers one meal a week. Even slavery cannot compete with electricity. So if you insist on working without it you are working for less than slave wages. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/02/03 20:39:03 GMT

Double entendres:

Grant... Your burner design BLOWS!

'Nuff said (VERY big grin).
   Zero - Sunday, 03/02/03 20:43:25 GMT

HELP!!! I have a Champion Blower & Forge Co. hand cranked blower that is in need of repair. It has lost a screw inside the gear housing. I have the blower partly disassembled but I don't know how to remove the gears without damaging the tool. I know if I can get it apart I can make the repair. I have project due soon and this is the only blower I have. Can anyone tell me how to make the repair or even if there is a manual available on Champion blowers. ANY advice on this is welcome. If you need more info please contact me. Many thanks, Will
   Will - Sunday, 03/02/03 21:20:22 GMT

Must admit I missed the pun (duh!) and had I seen it I would have read Grants post in a different tone. It's a very limited channel of communication plus, some of us are none too bright in the first place.

In any case I am most interested in finding out about Grants designs for gas forges.
   adam - Sunday, 03/02/03 22:55:49 GMT

An engineer I knew maintained that the most important invention of the 20th century was the fractional HP motor.
   adam - Sunday, 03/02/03 23:00:15 GMT

guru; remember I am ignorant (new and unlearned) in bladesmithing. How picky do I need to be in regards to pipe from my blower to my forge. I plan to use the brake drum forge with the air pipe underneath( not through the side).
   BLADES - Monday, 03/03/03 00:25:53 GMT

Thanks in advance for your reply. I have been searching the web for a supply source of tubing- for a chandelier project....not having much luck. I assume 3/8" OD in pipe terms....can someone suggest a source- thanks from Frederick, MD.
   Mark C - Monday, 03/03/03 00:42:33 GMT

I have 3 T-Rex burners mounted with the ends of the flares recessed 1" from the forge interior in a 3" Kaowool forge roof. I was wondering if I could improve the life of the flares by increasing the recess to 2" or more. I coated the Kaowool with ITC-100 and used a small cone mandrel to shape the current 1" recess.
Providing I can maintain a smooth continuation of the flare through the Kaowool is there any reason not to do this ? I'm a bit concerned that by reducing the flare to kaowool contact area I may have a lot of heat or flame escape around the outside of the flare.


contact area
   chris smith - Monday, 03/03/03 01:36:08 GMT


You could try making burner blocks. I took the flare that came w/my t-rex, coated the inside w/vasolene and poured in plaster to make a positive of the flare. I then coated the form with some melted wax and then coated that with vasolene so it would come out easier. Then you could hot glue the form to a piece of wood. Flare side down. Use caulk around the bottom where the form meets the plywood to soften the edge. Make a wood form whatever size you want to make the burner blocks to be. Lets say 3"x3"x3". Attach w/hot glue and pour in whatever refractory you can pick up. Caulk is still wet and don't forget to use vasolene an all surfaces after you put them together as a release. The plaster flare form will push right out. Bingo, burner blocks. Doesn't really cost anything. I did this in my 3 burner all castable. Works good.
   - Pete-Raven - Monday, 03/03/03 03:49:16 GMT

Hey everyone. Well I am a blacksmithing enthusiest and well I have been interested in the trade for quite some time. I have done some research and things of that nature but untill recently I was unable to begin my work due to coding issues with my residency. Well I am living in a new house and I am starting construction of my workshed. I'm a fairly handy carpenter and I am building it in the back of my house with the idea of putting a forge in it. I have the foundation poured as well as 3 walls fully framed and weather proofed (I have just have the some basic bracing on the roof placed). Before I begin work on the roof and final wall I was wondering if you guys could make some sugestions on good resources for forge designs as well as begining blacksmithy(I had intended to build a brick tire forge which I found the plans to in a smithing book, I have a friend who is good at welding putting together the firebox)? Also if the forge I have in mind is ideal? As well as some resources for begining techniques in making swords/blades?
   Justsomeguy - Monday, 03/03/03 04:51:53 GMT

Chanpion Blower Info: Will, The best info available on Champion blowers is the Champion catalog on CD-ROM that we sell. See our book review page. Besides detailed drawings and cross sections there are also patent drawings that show in detail how the bearing adjustments are made.
Note that these blowers have adjustable backlash in the bearings which effects the centering of the worm gears. Adjustments should only be made very carefully by someone that understands the arrangement, bearing tension AND gear backlash. Too loose or too tight can wreck the bearings and the gears. The best rule is "everything in moderation". Bearings want to be nearly backlash free but NOT be preloaded in this design. Gears always much have SOME backlash but not excessively so. It is a job for what used to be called a "mechanic". There are no specifics because it was expected that EVERY mechanic knoew how to make these adjustments correctly.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 05:37:06 GMT

Pipe to Forge BLADES, Blower air pipes must not be too restrictive. Generaly 1-3/4" ID is the minimum and 2 to 3 the max for large forges. Air for forges should be a nice rush of air (called a blast) that is not too high a velocity. Small pipes require high pressure and high velocitys. Normal pipe sizes as given above generaly provide the right conditions.

   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 05:41:39 GMT

Chandelier Pipe: Mark C, Standard 1/8" schedule 40 pipe has a .405" OD (just .030" larger than 3/8") and is what standard light fixtures have used since the 1880's. 1/8" iron pipe is generally available from ANY decent plumbing supplier in full 20' lengths as well as nipples from close (1") up to 6" in length.

Standard light recepticles thread onto 1/16" NTP which is closer to 5/16" OD. 1/8" pipe was used for arms with wire inside and adaptors on the ends to reduce to 1/16" NPT.

Note that "pipe" does not come in OD's. It comes in PIPE sizes which are nominals and remain the same for the fractional ID which changes with the wall thickness of the pipe depending on the pressure rating. TUBING comes rated in OD's and wall thickness, the ID being whatever is left. If you ask a plumbing supplier for an OD he is going to tell you to go somewhere else. When dealing with industrial suppliers you MUST learn the jargon or expect to get laughed out of many places of business (they shouldn't, but they DO).

Do not expect a plumbing supply to have the little 1/16" pipe fittings used for electrical work. A good electrical supplier will have them. If there is none in your area try your local Lowes, Building Mart or similar. These folks often have large supplies of fittings for pipe AND tubing as well as pipe to tube adaptors. If that fails then McMaster-Carr has it all on-line.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 05:59:57 GMT

Permanent Forges: Justsome, DO NOT build a permanent forge until you have a couple years or more experiance with forges. The best starter forge is something semi-portable or removable. Use a side draft "hood" with a 10" dia. (min) stack. See our plans page. You will probably need a triple wall roof penetration for safety as well as meeting code.

If you build a brick monstrosity that doesn't work then you are stuck with it or have and expensive demolition job on your hands.

Coal forges can range from a simple flat bench top with an air pipe to arrangements with a commercial fire pot, tuyeer and blower. The best results come from the fairly standardized commercial firepots and tuyeers. Many problems with welding and proper heating can be traced to bad forge designs.

Besides bottom blast forges there are also side blast forges and trough forges. For blade work the Japanese or oriental trough forge is very useful but is primarily a charcoal forge.

No forge is "ideal". All have drawbacks as well as strengths. When deciding to use ANY solid fuel forge you should first determine if coal or charcoal is readily available locally. In many places it is not and shipping can be significant. Many smiths use propane because of its almost universal availablity as well as cleanliness. This is a world wide trend.

We have book reviews of a couple blade smithing books and there are many available from Norm Larson Books, Artisan Ideas and others.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 06:19:23 GMT

Forge parts and plans: Justsome, Kayne and Son have firepots, tuyeers and blowers. If you buy a set of parts I believe they have plans for fabricating the rest of the forge that they will give you. The option is to search the world for an old cast iron forge. However, most of these in good condition with all the parts cost more than new components from the Kaynes.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 06:24:37 GMT

Upcoming anvilfire Projects:

We are planning on building a Japanese style box bellows and trough forge. I have sketched up the box bellows plans and have a very simple valve arrangement but I am looking for details of the actual traditional type (in case it is better than what I have come up with).

Plans will be available on completion of the project. The great advantage of the box bellows is that it takes no more wood than a standard size bellows AND you don't have to obtain an entire cow hide to make it work. They are not very "romantic" looking but are easy to build and quite durable.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 06:32:37 GMT

BLADES; For what it may be worth, I've seen more than a few forges, my own included, being blown through salvaged round galvanized downspouting and the elbows that came with it. Don't forget the sheet metal screws and Duct Tape, of course. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Monday, 03/03/03 06:59:18 GMT

Dohhh!!! I'm usually better at catching the doubles and puns. (hangs head in shame). I think it was the shouting that threw me off.

   Monica - Monday, 03/03/03 12:10:24 GMT

From your description of Burner Blocks it sounds like you use the burner block instead of the SST flare. Right ?
How do you attach them or are you just embedding them in a castable shell ? I really like the idea but would need to
be able to secure them in my 3" Kaowool shell. It's actually 2" Kaowol secured to an arched top made of a piece of shredder grate ( 1/2" thick perforated steel ) with SST screws and fender washers then a second 1" layer of Kaowool glued to this with ITC-100.
Thanks for the ideas.
   chris smith - Monday, 03/03/03 14:12:06 GMT

Air Pipe: I've cobbled forge air pipe from old auto-body aluminium and used auto exhust pipe. There are a number of vehicals including Dodge vans that use stainless exhust pipe that would be good for a forge although it is a little small. Odd pieces of vacumme cleaner pipe is about the same size (a little small) but often chrome plated. I have patched rusted out air pipes with old soft drink cans in a pinch.

Wood can be used if doesn't get too close to the fire pot. Plastic like on hair blow dryers is a problem as it melts from the radiant heat. A layer of sheet metal with air space on both sides (about an inch) makes a heat sheild that will stop over 90% of radiant heat. It doesn't need to be pretty, it just needs to produce a shadow in the infrared. It is a good idea to shield blowers that are mounted close to metal forges.

Burner blocks are more heat resistant and easier to make than the stainless flares which require a hard to obtain tubing size. The best form to make is carefully turned wood. But you can also make throw-away conical forms from cardboard and fit them around a scrap piece of your burner tube. Wrap the tube with one layer of common white printer paper to act as both parting for the refractory mix AND to provide assembly clearance. Be VERY sure your pipe used for the form is the same as that of the burner. I have found that there is a lot of cheap pipe on the market that doesn't meet standard specifications and it can be as much as 1/64" undersize. It is not too much problem if your burner is the smaller size but if your form is smaller than the burner it will not fit. .

The exterior of your burner block can be round or square. Round ones can be molded in small soup, juice or bean cans. Square can be molded in a break down wooden mold box OR a paper milk carton.

To attach the burner block requires brackets attached to your forge shell unless they are molded into the body of the forge. It is possible to make the blocks IN the attachment tubes of the forge. The round or square consideration above should be based on the available mounting method.

Material for burner blocks can be castable refractory OR molded Kaowool. You can paint a burnout paper (cardboard, posterboard or card stock) form with ITC-100 and then pack ITC-100 soaked kaowool around it. However, the solids in the ITC-100 do not penetrate well into kaowool and it takes some futzing around. I have obtained some refractory binder that works great for this purpose but it is expensive and only comes in large quantities. As soon as the weather warms I am going to try a finer ITC product to see what happens.

On a thick kaowool lining flares can be molded in using ITC-100. Using paper or card stock forms works well as you can burn them out while curing the ITC-100. After the forms are burned out you can apply another coat of ITC-100 for durability.

The reason for kaowool/ITC burner blocks is that many folks have these two materials on hand for building their forge. Castable refractory is probably a better choice but if you do not have it for some other purpose purchasing a full 50 pound bag when all you need is 5 pounds is a bit extravagant.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 16:20:55 GMT

guru, have you checked out the "The Craft of the Japanese Sword" (Leon and Hiroko Kapp, Yosindo Yoshihara, Kodansha press)?

They have a very good diagram and description of the box bellows on pages 66-70. Still being used, and very simple.
   Escher - Monday, 03/03/03 16:23:30 GMT

PH problem:


A while back I bought a 35# Kerrihard that I rarely use. (got it at a good price and it was in great shape, but I wasn't really "ready" for it yet) I used it several times during the summer, and it worked really well, smashed things nice and flat .

When I fired it up a couple of days back it was not hitting very hard at all. The hammer would go up and come down slowly and lightly.

I have been keeping the hammer well oiled and greased, even when it is not in use. Is it possible that the grease is to heavy for the hammer in the cold? My shop is unheated..... Is there a problem I am missing? I really don;t want to hurt the hammer by running it if it is not working right.....

Thanks in advance!

   -JIM - Monday, 03/03/03 16:30:58 GMT

May I resp[ectfully point out that you *don't* need 1/2 a cow hide for a bellows' leathers. I used heavily treated canvas used for Oil Patch wind wings (from an awning shop's scraps) for the "leathers" of my large double lunged bellows which I built back in '82 or'83 The canvas is still in decent shape but the boards are beginning to degrade after spending several years outside here in OH.

One nice thing about the double lunged bellows is that you can have a constant air flow rather than the puff puff of the box bellows, One box bellow user swears by a glass sheet over the floor says it really helps on friction.

I often demo at historical reenactment and so have to use the blower of the era (two single bellows, the double lunged "great" bellows, the hand crank blower covers the timespan pretty nicely from just after the blowpipe till the electric blower) I have both blown and aspirated propane forges (and NG, coal, charcoal, ...) and find that the blown one is much easier to use and adjust on the fly; but I do find myself away from electricity a lot doing demo's---or don't want folk tripping over an extension cord or *dropping* a hot piece of metal on it! (amazing what folk will do with hot metal the first time they use tongs!)

My advice? "Marry them both!" ahhh sorry wrong movie; My advice is to not expect 1 forge to do everything; shoot even with a half dozen different forges I still had to dig a trench forge in the back yard to box fold some plate before.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/03/03 17:37:05 GMT

Monica, I would assume that you are a fairly recent addition to the Guru's Den. A few of the regulars here have established sufficient credibility that they are granted (no pun intended) a dispensation to be our official cantakerous curmudeons (BOG). Most of the time, between some totally dessicated humor, you will find the real gems of knowlege and experience you came here to find. Once in a while, they just play with your head.
Grant: No I have never taken a course in design. It is interesting that a new crystal form of carbon has been designated as the "Buckminsterfullereen" because it is shape exactly like a geodesic dome. The use of this type of carbon has been reported to produce some very beneficial effects in steel. Since this crystal shape likely existed prior to the birth of R. Buckminster Fuller, one can only assume he stole the design. This is, of course, pure conjecture. I understand your enthusiasm for redesigning my Whimper Baby, however, blowing the kaowool out the front port and transforming the forge shape from cubic to spherical is something I have scrupulously tried to avoid.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 03/03/03 18:06:08 GMT

Do you have any idea where I can find round steel or iron balls that can be welded into steel scuptures?
   Gayle M. Franzen - Monday, 03/03/03 19:21:21 GMT

Steel Balls Gayle, McMaster-Carr has them in a variety of alloys. These are bearing balls and are not particularly cheap but they are usualy cheaper than making them yourself.


   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 19:56:59 GMT

Guru, Japanese bellows valve arrangement is two on either end for "outside air" and two leading to manifold. They are rectangular holes, each covered with a rectangular flap of wood about 1/4" to 3/8" thick. The flap hinge can be as simple as a standard, small 3-knuckled type with equal leaves and fixed to the top edge, so gravity can do its job. And, as Escher suggests, see Kapp & Yoshihara.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/03/03 20:00:06 GMT

Slow Hammer: Yep, I suspect cold thick grease. BUT metal shrinks and fits can sometimes get tight when the weather changes too. I tried to fire up the old EC-JYH the other day (20°F in the shop) and it would not even turn over without the clutch engaged. . Of course it is a little under powered but it usualy runs when called upon.

There is also the problem of putting grease where you are supposed to put oil. Most power hammers use oil on most of the parts. I've seen lots of Little Giant lube holes clogged with grease so they could not be oiled. The clutch bearing is the exception on Little Giants and it came with either a grease cup or a zirc fitting.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 20:05:07 GMT

Cloth on Bellows Yep, I know it will work. But having built several bellows I prefer the longer lasting leather. The cost benifit ratio is actually better for the leather over the long haul.

Stored Air: Although this is a nifty feature of the Great Bellows I think it is over rated. Most I have seen do very poorly in this regard. My large bellows did (does) do quite well but the air is only good for about 5 to 8 seconds. If it was long enough in duration to last the time to work a heat then I would feel it was of benefit but I have never seen a Great Bellows of any size that stored more than a few seconds worth of air.

Hand crank blowers are the same. They will continue to run on flywheel effect IF cranked fast but this lasts a very short time. And when cranked slow there is almost no flywheel time.

PRIMARILY What the storage chamber does in a Great Bellows is create a fairly constant flow of air while the bottom half goes through compression and intake cycles. The box bellows is double acting and pumps air going in either direction so that there is the slightest pause in flow.

Leather OR Cloth, both are a complication and a maintenance problem that the box bellows does not have. In the end they both work albiet with slightly different characteristics.

My Box Bellows Valves Not having seen the details I have worked up my own and then simplified a bunch. The exhust valve is actually a single valve that that controls both sides. The intakes are on the bottom since there is already a layer of boards for an intake manifold. It would seem that they would work well in the end boards but I have never seen them there.

I figured The Craft of the Japanese Sword would have some info but I do not have a copy. . . Probably should get one.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 20:34:16 GMT

Buckminsterfullereen: Fuller did not discover them but the discoverers DID name them for Fuller and his geodesic domes. Although they do occur naturaly in soot they are very rare and what was INVENTED was a way to manufacture them. The large hollow molecules are used to hold a molecule of another substance for various purposes.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/03 21:00:43 GMT


I agree that the box bellows makes as much or more sense than great bellows. When I was just getting started again I fiddled around designing a box bellows (but never made it), only to learn that it had been done a few thousand years before. Re-inventing the whell, as I so often do. (grin) I did have one idea in connection with it that might be worthwhile, though.

To get a smoother flow of air, and some residual blast when not pumping, I thought of making an air reservoir between the bellows and the tuyere. Nothing fancy, just a tall hollow wooden box with a gasketed top lthat could be pumped up to the top of the column. Both intake and exhaust at the bottom of the column. With the airgate partially closed, the bellows should pump the lid up in the column, and when you stop pumping, the lid's own weight pushes it down, delivering air. It would need a backflow prevention flap between the pump and the reservoir, of course. As a bonus, the reservoir would act as a backflash safety, too. A backflash would only pop the lid out of the column, rather than blowing the piston out of the pump and into you. Kind of Rube Goldberg, and quite possibly flawed from a physics standpoint, bit I still think you should try it out and let me know if it works. (huge grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/04/03 00:48:24 GMT

Jerry kirkpatric (?) has a burner block wall. If I understand him right visualize a flat floor.. a verticle burner wall and changable koawool 1/4 cylinders of different sizes depending on the size forge he needs.

Chris. No my ss burner flares sit on a shelf waiting to be cast when I need them. The flares on my forge go in at an angle. I made collars w/screws to stop them from sliding down.
   - Pete-Raven - Tuesday, 03/04/03 01:17:46 GMT

adam (and others responding/commenting on gas forges), thank you for your response to my gas forge questions. i plan on ordering t-rex burners. i know i cant build a better one and they have a proven track record.

cylindrical superior vs box?? the process of lining the forge alone seems to make cylindrical the best choice.

the forge "entrance" is inadequate or impractical to fucntion also as the "exhaust port". agree or disagree???

what are things to consider when constructing the floor of the forge? legs of mild steel welded to the shell, coated with itc-100, wrapped with kaowool and coated again?? shelf of expanded iron prepped in a similar way better option to resist flux damage vs board refractory material??

receiving soon a very sweet PW,about100#.want to bring out the natural beauty of the wrought iron without damaging it. how can i do this and what should i treat it with after cleaning the crud off it to keep it looking like a million bux??

thanks to all....
   - rugg - Tuesday, 03/04/03 01:50:49 GMT


For the forge floor, I have found that kiln shelf, from a pottery supply house, is the best solution. Very durable, retains heat, resists flux. Available in 3/4" and 1" thick. I prefer the 1". I support mine by welding short stubs of 3/8" or 1/2" rod to the shell, then slipping kiln posts over them. Kiln posts are refractory cast into a square cross section with a hole through the middle. They can be cut to length with a diamond saw or an abrasive saw. The diamond saw is way faster. For cutting the kiln shelf, nothing but a diamond saw works well. If you don't have one, most any tile-setter does and will make a cut or three for next to nothing. BTW, I glue kiln shelf together with regular stove/furnace cement from the plumbing supply place. Works just fine. Stuff Kaowool under the kiln shelf for insulation.

To make an anvil look "showroom" pretty, scrub it with a Scotchbrite pad until it looks good, then degrease it thoroughly with trisodium phosphate or equivalent and color it with liquid gun bluing such as Birchwood Casey. A coat of linseed oil (raw, not boiled) finishes it off. Better yet, have it gold plated and chain it down. (grin)

   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/04/03 02:21:08 GMT

Speaking of diamond saw blades.

Harbor Freight has them on sale pretty regularly. The little 4" and 4 1/2" ones work great in a small side grinder for cutting darn near anything. Masonry, Rock, Refractory materials.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/04/03 02:50:54 GMT

Re: Diamond saws

If buying diamond saw blades, try to get the type recommended for wet use and use them wet. Better cuts, longer blade life by far, and less chance of heat fracturing your stock. An old windex bottle or the like works fine for supplying the water. I have my diamond saw fitted with a small nozzle made from brass tubing and clear plastic tubing that hooks to any faucet or hose.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/04/03 03:11:30 GMT

GURU;Thanks for the info. It should be very helpful.
   BLADES - Tuesday, 03/04/03 03:35:58 GMT

Vicopper, I have a photo of Yataiki, premier saw maker of Japan, with his left foot on the T-handle of the bellows. Apparently, he gives it a short back-and-forth motion while tending the fire. Of course, most of the time, he is giving full piston strokes with the left hand. So I guess if you trained your left foot, it would not only act as the "residual blast reservoir". It would eliminate it. You'd have to maintain your hunkered or sitting position througout, however. Har de har.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/04/03 03:53:33 GMT

Guru, Thanks for the advice. I have to thank Pawpaw also. Between the two of you I was able to get the blower working and not only that but It's running better than it has since I bought it. I do have one more question though. I've been useing machine oil to lube the gears. Should I use grease instead? Again thanks a lot for the advice. You guys are great.
   Will - Tuesday, 03/04/03 04:41:04 GMT

Master Turley,

I don't think I'm enlightened enough to learn Zen fire tending. I can barely remember to throttle back the gas forge when it isn't heating anything. (grin)

Air on, air off. Air on, air off...
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/04/03 05:21:27 GMT


I use 30 wt, non detergent motor oil in mine.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/04/03 06:11:32 GMT

I was reading in the new Edge of The Anvil that when forge welding a great deal of ultra-violet light is produce. So you probably should use goggles, but then wouldn't it be difficult to judge the color. Does anyone wear goggles or even worry about this?

   Hayes - Tuesday, 03/04/03 06:26:02 GMT

I bought an old large leg vice a few weeks ago,the only problem with it is it doesn't open without forcing it out,as i'm new to these vices would the leaf spring need resetting to get it working properly?
   doug - Tuesday, 03/04/03 11:13:52 GMT

Are work life Balance primarily work or life driven?
   Annabel - Tuesday, 03/04/03 12:20:18 GMT

It sounds to me like the pivot for the jaw is dirty, too tight or bunged up. The spring does open the vice but the jaw should move freeley. Take the jaw off, clean the pivot and put it back together and I would bet that it works 100% better.
   Wayne Parris - Tuesday, 03/04/03 13:29:16 GMT

Your "Guruness"; Please explicate the cost/benefit ratio of treated canvas vs leather? My "scrap" canvas was free and has lasted at least 20 years and looks good for a bunch more years with *no* treatments and even abuse! (Leave the leather outside in the weather a couple of winters and report back!) Even the ant's nest I brushed out of the folds after a down period did not affect it.

So lets get the numbers down:

Cost of canvas US$0
Ease of installation: very easy
Length of uselife: 20+ years
Maintenance: 0

Ok what's your values for leather?

My Y1K leather sided bellows were quite a bit more expensive and they are a lot smaller than a great bellows.


   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/04/03 14:09:38 GMT

Annabel, Work/Life. Are you a philosopher? Many Americans consider any work to be drudgery. There is a bumber sticker: "The worst day fishing is better than the best day working". What an altitude! [pun intended] Matthew Fox has addressed the problem and puts forth a call for attitudinal, social change in his book, "The Reinvention of Work".

Ayn Rand addresses the situation in "The Fountainhead", talking about the creative, innovative person who is "inner directed". That is all well and good, but the pitfall is that it may lead to tunnel vision. The inner directed person may be strong like the trunk of a tree, but we must not forget that the tree needs branches and leaves in order to bear fruit.

Personally, at one point in my life, I tried to direct too much attention to the workplace at the expense of my everyday home and relationship life, and I paid the price. It is all one ball of wax. I think one can attempt staying in the middle of the continuum.

If we continue this kinda' talk, maybe it would be best to move it to the Hammer-in forum.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/04/03 14:22:39 GMT


I find that most blacksmiths I've meet have some element of a philosopher in them. I think it goes with the time spent staring into the fire.
   Stephen G - Tuesday, 03/04/03 14:31:53 GMT

I'am wondering what the composition of a rail anchor.
I assume it spring steel. Some ideas of what can be made from them
   - Gerry W. Jones - Tuesday, 03/04/03 14:41:53 GMT

Just figured I would let you people know the problem with the forge has to be the regulator. I added more kaowool to the forge and reduced the space but the heat is still the same. I will contiue with the space reduction and try to locate another regulator.
   Kevin King - Tuesday, 03/04/03 16:01:50 GMT

Jerry, Rail Anchor? Not sure what part you are talking about. The support plates are probably similar to the rail which is approximately 65 to 75 point carbon steel. If it is junk yard steel then you must test each piece to determine how to handle it. Start with a spark test then harden and temper a sample. When you use any unknown steel YOU are the metalurgist.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 16:13:41 GMT

I use chainsaw bar oil in my blower.... I used to use 30wt
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/04/03 16:43:09 GMT

Post Vise Doug, The front jaw should move smoothly and easily. It is probably rusted. Disassemble, soak with penetrating oil and work the jaw back and fourth until it frees up. If it remains tight, someone may have tightened the joint by hammering on the side plates or tightening the bolt. Some vises have a bolt in the joint and others a rivet or a pinned shaft. If it is removable do so. Then clean the parts and reassemble. The jaw should fit snug and not wobble side to side but should move freely in and out.

AFTER freeing the jaw and reassembling the spring may need rearcing (not much). But do not do it until the vise is working smoothly. These springs generally do not need to be hardened as they have very low travel.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 16:51:02 GMT

UV Goggles.
Polycarbonate lenses are supposed to block something like 99% of UV, but can still be color-less. Most, if not all, of safety glasses are polycarbonate. So it seems like tinted lenses aren't necessary for forge work. Any other thoughts on this?
   - Marc - Tuesday, 03/04/03 17:00:52 GMT

Steel Balls
McMaster-Carr also has steel balls out of 1018. Those are a much nicer price than SS and other alloys.
   - Marc - Tuesday, 03/04/03 17:05:36 GMT

Forge welding and IR: Hayes, There is no UV in the forge fire but the infrared IS intense and CAN damage the eyes. All infrared exposure is bad for the eyes and the damage is cummulative throughout your life. Staring into the fire for long periods is not wise and should only be done as needed. As with many things different people have different sensitivities to IR and what is damaging to one person may not be to another.

The problem is worse with gas and oil forges than with solid fuel due to the large luminesent area of the forge interior.

For those that worry about such things we sell #2 shade safety glasses. These are made using the same filtering material as welding glasses except they are not as dark. Standard gas welding shades are a #3 for small work and #4 or #5 for heavy work or cutting. Distance is also a factor. The farther away from the work the lighter the shade can be. In most torch welding your face is much closer to the work than when forge welding.

The rule on welding shades is to use as dark as is safe to see and work with. If you cannot see the work well enough then you are supposed to go to the next lightest shade. The #2 shades are fairly selective in what they filter and you can actually see the hot metal better WITH them than without. I've used them while working in the dark and they kill the glare of the fire while still letting you see well enough to work. . . strange but true.

Click on our STORE link for purchasing info.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 17:08:10 GMT

IR and safety glasses:

Yes, the optics guys have told me that polycarbonate, such as my eyeglasses, block UV pretty well.

Guru, I'm still dreaming of goggles or at least OTG glasses that would fit over my prescription glasses. I finally found some goggles in shade 3 at www.labsafety.com. Plan to talk to the safety guy at work and ask if he has seen any in a shade 2. Not that I've noticed any problem, but exposure is cumulative as you said, and Lord willing, I have a good many years to go.

As for judging color... IT SEEMS TO ME... that the colors we use when forging are the colors we've learned from experience are "right" with our own eyes. That is, I stop forging when mild steel becomes this color, but with H13 when it's this color, it's time to quench when O-1 is this color, and so on. Didn't take me too long to catch on to the right colors for most of what I do with clear lenses, won't take too long to get used to it with some shade, either. Think about it, we already make allowances for forging in dimly lit shops or outdoors at a gathering... My thoughts, anyway. Haven't got the glasses to try it out yet.

   Steve A - Tuesday, 03/04/03 17:32:46 GMT

Filter Lenses: We had a long discussion on this subject a while back. It would SEEM that the ASTM spec referred to by OSHA and many others would be the last word on the subject. So I purchased the spec on eye protection (yeah, OSHA refers to it but you must BUY it).

Forging and casting operations are NOT given any specific consideration. The only recommended shades are those for specific gas and arc welding operations and THIS was taken from an old AWS recommendation that is the same as is quoted in every welding book. Otherwise most of the spec is standards and testing methods for manufacturing of the filter and safety lenses.

OSHA requires every employer to provide adequate eye protection to prevent damage to employees eyes BUT does not give specific recommendations leaving the employer on their own to determine the correct protection. OSHA refers to the ASTM spec AND to medical sources which in turn refer back to the same ASTM spec AND OSHA (Circular references).

Dididyium lens are mentioned for glass blowers but not as a specific recomendation. Dididyium lens ARE referred to as not being suitable for metal working. So we offer the much cheaper #2 shades as an alternative for working at the forge.

Since all IR exposure is cummulative any amount of protection helps. How much protection is enough is not defined except for welding operations.

As far as judging color is concerned, ambient light has a GREAT deal to do with it and is different in every shop. For judging welding heat you can go more you the surface texture (especially using shaded lenses) than actual color. Many folks also use a test bar to touch the weld area and see if it is sticky (see our iForge demo on forge welding).
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 17:38:56 GMT

RR Track bolts and nuts: Grade 1 = .15 carbon, Gr. 2 = .30 carbon. Steel tie plates: Gr. 1 = .15 C, Gr. 2 = .35-.85 (!?!). RR spikes: Gr. 1 = .12C, Gr. 2(HC) = .30C. All values taken from ASTM Vol. 1.04 (2002). Still looking for RR spring composition. All values are MINIMUMs and your experience may vary. PS. No listing for "rail anchor". Is it called something else?
   - Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 03/04/03 18:00:18 GMT

How do you make a knife out of cable?
   - 2Feathers - Tuesday, 03/04/03 19:43:33 GMT

Can you specify
   - 2Feathers - Tuesday, 03/04/03 19:44:42 GMT

How do you make a knife out of a horseshoe
   - 2Feathers - Tuesday, 03/04/03 19:47:38 GMT

Hey Folks,
Is the brass flat bar available at the On-line Metals Store a suitable grade to use as slider guides for a Kinyon style air hammer? Thanks -Dodge
   Dodge - Tuesday, 03/04/03 20:12:22 GMT

I need some help finding the steelmesh for fireplace screens. If any one can lead me in the right direction I would be much thankfull...
   Chris E. - Tuesday, 03/04/03 21:13:00 GMT


Get it hot.

Hit it hard.

Quit when it looks right?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/04/03 21:19:18 GMT


McNivchoils Co. HTTP://www.mcnichols.com

Tell them you need the wire cloth catalog.

You can also contact them at 1-800-237-3820
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/04/03 21:21:14 GMT

Thanks, Quenchcrack. Any ideas how to tell the grade? I did notice some numbers or letters on the head of the bolt, but only in a "Oh, those will need filed off" kind of way.
   - Stormcrow - Tuesday, 03/04/03 21:30:49 GMT

i have recently made a roman gladius style sword and i was wondering how to color the metal (blue, yellow, etc...)
   - James Coles-Nash - Tuesday, 03/04/03 21:46:12 GMT


What metal is it made from? The patination method will vary according to what metal you used.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/04/03 22:17:00 GMT

what is the best way to heat treat 4140 steel for a sword blade???
   - James Coles-Nash - Tuesday, 03/04/03 22:17:18 GMT

Metal Coloring James, Generaly you have a narrow range of colors to use on steel. Brown, black and dark blue are most common. Yellow is a "temper color" and is not very durable as it is only a partial oxidation of the metal surface of one atom thickness (See our FAQs page for temper colors).

Brown is a natural color made by controlled rusting. The part to color is rusted in a damp box, wiped down, cleaned and rusted again. Eventualy you get a dark even brown that is as smooth as the original finish. This was a common finish used by early gun smiths.

Blues and black require stong chemicals and are called gun bluing or Parkerizing (flat black). These are generally industrial processes but you can buy "quick blue" compounds from gunsmiths suppliers like Birchwood Casey.

Copper and brass can be colored a wider range of colors but again the processes require some very nasty chemicals. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK has formulae and there are books on nothing but coloring metal. Aluminum is colored by an industrial process called anodizing and can be gold, red, bright blue or black.

4140 is hardened in oil and then tempered to the desired harness. Generally it is not a very hard steel and is used mostly for its toughness. See our heat treating FAQ for details.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 23:02:22 GMT

Cable Damascus 2feathers, see our Roller Chain Damascus FAQ. Same instructions apply. The result is neither Damascus or laminated steel and is mostly a curiosity rather than a useful technique.

Blade from a Horseshoe. . . You Don't. Horseshoes are made of soft mild steel that is not suitable to make blades from.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 23:13:36 GMT

Brass: Dodge, The 360 brass is the common stuff found in most machine shops and is most likely what every Kinyon style guide system is made from. 660 Bearing bronze would be better but is hard to find in flat bar.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/04/03 23:23:16 GMT

Stormcrow: I could tell you but then I would have to kill you....sorry, just couldn't resist. Spark testing would be a good way to tell the difference between .12C and .30C. Go to www.iforgeiron.com and check out the "Spark Testing" paper Ntech posted.
Heat Treating 4140: Heat to cherry red (1650F) and air cool(normalizing). Re-heat to about 1550F, red, Oil quench vertically. IF it is straight, temper as desired (400-500F) for 1 hr per inch of thickness. If it is not straight, re-normalize and try to get the heat more uniform. Note: This stuff is pretty hardenable and I have had fairly good luck using compressed air to harden KNIFE blades. Not sure how it would work on a sword. I pointed the tip of the blade into the air stream and let it cool to room temperature. A long sword may not cool uniformly and might bend.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/05/03 00:45:29 GMT

thanks guru regarding leg vice,will carry out the cleaning process,regards doug
   doug - Wednesday, 03/05/03 02:21:57 GMT

Steve A

I have tried to wear poly safety glasses over my prescription glasses and always find them to be uncomfortable plus the lenses rub against each other and get scratched quickly.

For Rx safety glasses take a look at US safety Guard dogs (ussafety.com).
They are regular over the ear polycarbonate safety glasses that you snap a prescription insert into behind the outer polycarbonate lens. The outer is available in clear,shade 3,5, smoke,amber etc. and the RX insert is very reasonable,
mine was around $60 plus about $20 for the safety glasses.
, you just send US Safety your prescription and they have it made for you. The "high heat" version uses a heat resistant foam to close the gap between your face and the glasses. I have a pair I use for welding and they are great, no more tilting my head like a grackle trying to line the close up part of my prescription with the lens in the welding helmet. when I got mine they only made single vision RX inserts but you may be able to get bi-focal lenses now, I still need one for working at the anvil.

   chris smith - Wednesday, 03/05/03 03:02:46 GMT

Interesting Old Lock:
I just posted images of a very intresting old lock on OldLocks.com. The owner is trying to identify it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/03 03:21:37 GMT

Thanks guru for the info on filter lenses for IR for forge welding.
   Hayes - Wednesday, 03/05/03 03:31:11 GMT

Old Lock, ID info sent to Mike, the owner. Pretty sure it's a Mexican chest lock.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/05/03 05:15:48 GMT

O Great and Illustrious Guru; I have just pried my fingers off my newly purchased copy of Dona Meilach's recent tribute to our beloved craft. In it, I was pleased to see an expression of gratitude, directed at you, for your encouragement of her latest effort. I wholeheartedly concur, and offer my own thanks to you. I credit Dona Meilach, along with Alexander Weygers and Eric Sloane for striking the spark that lit the fire that has captivated me for about 27 years, now, and looking through this new book has fanned the fire even more. Thanks to the efforts of people like yourself and Ms.Meilach, this will never again be referred to as "A dying art. Best regards and deep gratitude, 3dogs.Can I get an AMEN from the congregation?
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/05/03 07:52:51 GMT

Re; Chinese Box Bellows - You may have this already, but there is a page about building them on Tim Lively's site, submitted by Daniel O'Conner.
   Lorne G - Wednesday, 03/05/03 08:58:11 GMT

Safety glasses.
Most every optician should also be able to get you prescription safety glasses. My company has a vision plan, so I used that to get a pair - cost me $25. The frames look like regular glasses, but the lenses are poly and they have side-shields. They're so comfortable that sometimes I forget to take them off and head out to the store with "geek" glasses.

I don't know about blocking IR, though, and I've never asked about different shades.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 03/05/03 13:32:42 GMT

Box Bellows: Lorne, Thanks for the link. This is a slightly different (and larger) design than what I have seen. Those had the exhust valve mechanism and manifold hidden (underneath?) and the intakes were not in the end boards. I still need to get a copy of The Art of the Japaneses Blade.

Using a manifold built into the bottom of the bellows I've reduced the number of valves to 3. The construction is a little trickier than Daniel O'Connor's but it is much cleaner.

Now I understand the comment about plate glass. But plywood (as Daniel used) with its grainy surface is the problem. Pine shelving with a coat of varnish or lacquer and some wax will be very low friction compared to plywood.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/03 14:48:39 GMT

Powerhammer Setup:
What is the minimum thickness sheet steel to use as a spring guard on a 50lb. little giant? Will A type dual belts drive my LG? or do I need square ones? I just about have this hammer stood up. I can't get a wrecker down my muddy slope (You're right,that would've been easier,Paw Paw)and am slowly chain winching the LG down the trailer from the tongue. Thanks for the tips!
   andrew - Wednesday, 03/05/03 15:09:14 GMT

Andrew, it would only have been easier if it worked, I'm sorry it didn't.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/05/03 15:16:42 GMT

Great Guru:

Do you want me to scan and send the relevant pages on the box bellows tonight?

3dogs: I'll say "Amen" to that; 'course, I'm in the choir. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/05/03 15:31:08 GMT

am doing research on 17th and 18th century iron making for a proposed iron and steel heritage region in penn., can someone please explain the difference between a bloomery, a forge and a furnace? i don't know nuthin about no iron making (yet) so a simple explanation would be appreciated.
   leslie - Wednesday, 03/05/03 16:15:28 GMT

Hi thought this might be useful.GENERAL PROPERTIES OF TOOL STEELS. resistance to
leter wear deformation in machine-
designation. toughness. resistanc. heat treating. ability
-4deg in ND and warming up (was -36 last week)
   coldiron - Wednesday, 03/05/03 16:47:38 GMT

shucks did not work out properly dern
   coldiron - Wednesday, 03/05/03 16:49:26 GMT

Safety Glasses - I use shade #3 welders saftly glasses over my prescription ones. The only trouble is that the safety glasses ride forward a bit, so the light of the fire hits the side of my eye directly from time to time as I turn. With the shades on, my pupils get larger I assume, and any light that does hit them direct from the fire through the side seems to be a bit harsher than if I had no glasses on at all. I wonder if I'd be better off with clear safety glasses.
   Lorne G - Wednesday, 03/05/03 17:14:32 GMT

"Rust Bluing"

My grandfather has been a gunsmith for eons, and has a "rust bluing" box. He cleans the parts with a mecuric acid solution, then sets the piece in a heated glass box with one cup of water, and a capful of acid, and a fan to keep the air circulating. After the piece has a fine rust, he pulls it out, boils it, and then runs it under a SOFT, SLOW wire brush (soft and slow enough that as a child, he showed me it by taking my hand and putting it to the wheel and I didn't loose my fingerprints (g)). Then he repeats until he has a good thick coating.

The end result is an almost hematite grey-black with a high gloss. He would not coat it with anything afterwards, as I recall.

Grandpa was using this treatment on rifle bolts and barrels, etc. Anyone know how well it would hold for general outdoor use? Unfortunatly, due to the ailments of age, I cannot ask my grandfather anymore.
   Monica - Wednesday, 03/05/03 17:38:18 GMT

Also, anyone know what type of wire brush it might have been? It's been suggested by a jewelry smith that it was what he called a carding wheel. Is there a different designation so that folks will have a clue what I'm asking for? Does anyone know where they can be purchased? (I know it will be expensive, Grandpa told me they were costly 15 years ago!)
   Monica - Wednesday, 03/05/03 17:40:41 GMT

Post Drill - I have a #614 Post Drill made by the "Canadian Blower & Forge Co.,Ltd" of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. It's distinguishing feature is that the down feed wheel on the top of the drill has the teeth underneath, not on top. Looking at your review of the CD ROM for the Buffalo Forge catalogue, I found a picture of a post drill with what looks like a similar arrangement. Was it common to have the teeth underneath, or can I assume the "Canadian" drill was probably produced from the Buffalo patents.
   Lorne G - Wednesday, 03/05/03 17:42:24 GMT

Guru, the plate glass makes a long term anti-friction plate, the wax and lacquer *will* wear down as the "wipers" will be in contact and the greatest wear will be on the bottom due to gravity. Saphire sheet would be even better---keep your eye open for a supermarket scanner with the "good" scanning plate.

Leslie---you're not in luck the terms have been used interchangably over time and so pining down what an original source actually means may have to be by context or other source information.

Basically a Bloomery is a furnace for producing real wrought iron from ore using the direct method. You load iron ore and charcoal in and blow air through it. In the direct method you don't melt the material instead you get a pasty semi-liquid mass of iron and slag that oozes down to the bottom of the furnace---this is called a "bloom" hence the bloomery. You take the bloom out, heat to welding temp and consolidate or "shingle" it with a hammer to get muck bar, draw out, cut stack weld and you get merchant bar (the commonly sold form of wrought iron). Cut stack weld and you get singly refined wrought iron, USW for doubly and triply refined WI.

With more water power and larger furnaces (the infamous "blast furnace"!)they started producing cast iron which is not forgable and so they came up with the indirect method of making wrought iron where you make cast iron and then re-work it into wrought iron, (several methods including the waloon and puddling) using furnaces often referred to as refining furnaces or chaffery furnaces.

IIRC "Ironworks on the Sagus" has a bit on iron refining technologies as does "Wrought Iron" by Aston

You would think that "forge" would be a place processing the output of a "furnace" but that distinction was honoured mainly in the breech.

Perhaps a better introduction would be to look over the archeology dtatsheets at http://www.hist-met.org/

The historical metallurgy society's website.

Thomas who gets to plat with a Y1K bloomery each summer!
   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/05/03 17:42:50 GMT

anyone know an easy way to make a propane fired weed burner? Thanks
   budsay - Wednesday, 03/05/03 18:10:57 GMT

thanks thomas, the smoke is starting to clear a bit.........
BTW, is your Y1K bloomery anywhere near PA and do you have any photos of it operating?
   leslie - Wednesday, 03/05/03 18:36:31 GMT

Budsay, the easiest way I know of is to wait for the sale at Harbor Freight, and lay 16 bucks on the counter, for which I get this big honkin' weed burner which will cremate any weed you put in front of it. (not to mention a few metal objects.) (grin) Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/05/03 19:34:45 GMT

Rio Grande jewelry supply in New Mexico has just about any wire brush there is.
   Chris Makin - Wednesday, 03/05/03 19:56:36 GMT

Paw Paw,
No probs, mate. I am thankful for your wisdom. I just wanted the snow to go... didn't think about the mud underneath it. Got the hammer to the edge of the trailer, time for a header gut check on my shop...
   andrew - Wednesday, 03/05/03 20:00:11 GMT

Wheelwright? Someone I know in Ouray CO has a carriage that needs restoration work. In particular wheel work. Anyone know of people doing this kind of work in that area?

   adam - Wednesday, 03/05/03 20:57:28 GMT

fixing cast iron

How can I repair cast I have a post drill that is in two where the wheel is on the post. Is there anyway to wield it?
   kernel1 - Wednesday, 03/05/03 22:36:46 GMT

kernel1, use a nickel rod. If you are not a qualified welder, take it to one who knows how to do it. However, I never did trust a weld on cast iron.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/05/03 22:54:59 GMT

Leslie, it's near Butler Pa above Pittsburg.

I'll have to see if the photos are posted on the open site yet. My friends that lead the smelting the last 10 years presented a paper on it at the Ironmasters Conference last year. (If you are interested in 18-19th century iron making you might give Ironmasters a try. Last year it was in Athens Ohio at the university and included a day long tour of 19th century charcoal fired furnace sites. I don't recall where it is this year.

Check out iron and steel under the IA Links at the Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archeology website http://www.as.wvu.edu/ihtia/

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/05/03 23:04:26 GMT

Brazing (with brass rod) is the safest way to repair cast iron. You still need someone with some expertise.

I think every post drill I've had was brazed back together somewhere. Generally this is not the fault of the drill but of people tossing them in scrap piles OR using them as a press. No drill press of any type or size is a suitable replacement for an arbor press. Folks do it all the time and break frames and feed mechanisms. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/03 23:07:47 GMT

I would like to know hkow to build a Coal fired Forge?
   Dwight McManus - Wednesday, 03/05/03 23:34:05 GMT

I would like to know how to build a Caol fired Forge?
   Dwight McManus - Wednesday, 03/05/03 23:35:32 GMT

Coal Forge: Dwight, There are hundreds of ways.

You need a container OR a surface on which to burn the coal and a source of blowing air. The container can be a hole in the ground, a hole in a clay filled wooden box, a pocket in a brick forge a commercial cast iron fire pot or a welded steel pot. A surface can be clay, masonry or steel with an edge to help keep coal from falling off. The best is a commercial cast iron fire pot.

The air can be provided by breath (many helpers), by wine skin, by bellows (many types), by box air pump, by hand crank blower, by electric blower or air compressor. The best is an electric blower, followed by great double chambered bellows followed by hand crank blower OR a box bellows.

The air can just blow into the side of the fire OR through a hole in a brick or stone wall Or through a clay or steel pipe OR through a pipe connected to the fire pot with a valve and ash dump (this pipe valve and dump combination is called a tuyeer but a simple pipe can also be defined as a tuyeer). Normally if you have a fire pot you need a fabricated tuyeer.

If the forge is outdoors you do not need a flue or chiminey but a wind break helps. The classic overhead hood is BAD and lets too much smoke escape. A side draft flue works much better (see our plans page).

You can build a coal forge from junk with no money spent that works almost as good as a forge that cost thousands of dollars (see our plans page for a cheap forge). You can build a VERY nice forge from components purchased from Kayne and Son. Order a fire pot, tuyeer and blower. The rest of the forge is steel plate with angle iron legs.

You can also build an earthen or mud and wattle forge for no money OR you can spend thousands on bricks and mortar. About the only difference is the permanance. Functionaly they will be very much the same. Some folks use commercial fire pots in their brick forges adding to the cost and complexity of the design.

Blow a little air on charcoal or coal and you can melt iron.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/03 00:23:47 GMT

2feathers...first of all, galvanized cable should never be used. Wire rope, acording to Machinerys Handbook is 1095. Much of it has a center core that is coated with some type of petroleum "tar" like material. The cable should be cleaned or you will have trouble forge welding. Unwrap the outer strands, remove the "tar" coated core and burn it off in a fire (not in your forge). I also put the outer strands in the fire to remove any grease, oils or whatever. After cooling, rewrap the strands around the core. An acid pickle may be used to further clean the steel. Wrap the ends TIGHTLY with tie wire or weld the ends so the strands wont unravel as you forge weld. Apply flux after it is showing some color and bring to welding temp. Forge weld about 1" on each end into a square. While at or near welding heat, clamp the work in a vice and twist tightly in the same direction as the cable twist. If everything is right, you will feel the cable "sticking" together. Wire brush the scale, flux and return to the forge and bring to welding heat. Return the work to the anvil and lightly strike the the work as you roll it with your tongs. It may take a few heats to completely work all the way down the cable. When it becomes a solid piece you can begin forging flatter and shaping the piece to your desire. Start with a section around 8 or 9" long and not more than 1" diameter. Larger cable is really hard to twist. Use plenty of flux after each heat before you return it to the forge. Wire brush vigorously and often. If I have left something out or not explained this clearly, someone jump in and add help. This is a lot of work and one small faulty cold shut or slag inclusion will show up in the grinding and blemish the final finished piece. If you are new at this, try forging a few knives from leaf, coil springs, plowshare or even RR spikes, before you jump on forge welding a cable knife.
   R Guess - Thursday, 03/06/03 00:32:38 GMT

Bellows Cost Cloth vs. Leather: Thomas, If you will agree with me that leather lasts longer than canvas (always has for me) then where the REAL cost comes in is when you have to recover the bellows. Most bellows are very difficult to recover if not impossible. The wood after having had nails driven into it a 1" increments when it was realtively new and fresh will not accept new nails in the split and now dry brittle wood. I have seen a few bellows recovered but it is a very painful job. So much so that I find it easier to build a NEW bellows than to recover an old one. And there is your cost. If the leather bellows lasts twice as long as the canvas you will not be replacing the entire thing for a very long time.

The leather covered bellows I built using split cowhide (marketed as buckskin) and not as durable as full hide, has lasted 28 years while exposed to the elements as part of an outdoor shop. It was used everyday for many years and is currently still in use. It may only have a few years left in it (due to the spilt hide). It MAY be possible to recover it but I doubt it. Or if it does get recovered it will not hold up as well as it has. At that time it will be over 30 years old and the leather only cost $1/year.

It COULD be that canvas is just as good but I sure like leather. . . :)
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/03 00:38:58 GMT

Rust Browning: Monica, I've described this process here many times. In its simplest form only plain water in a "damp box" is used. The process of removing the loose rust is called carding no matter how it is done. The primitive method is to use the edge of a board (perhaps this is where carding comes from). Plywood is supposed to work well. The item is repeatedly rusted until it a dense smooth coat of rust. This is very similar to the natural patina that ols tools develop. If a wire brush is used it must be very soft and fine wired.

The browned surface is a place to hold oil and it no different than bluing this respect. Without oil or wax the surface will resist further rusting in a DRY environment but will continue to rust anywhere there is condensation (and heavy metal objects attract condensation due to not warming as quickly as the air around them). So to prevent rust the browned surface must be continualy kept oiled. This is true of all oxide coatings including scale, bluing and Parkerizing.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/03 00:51:48 GMT

Post Drill Feed Teeth: Lorne, All of mine have been on the top but a majority of the catalog photos show them on the bottom. I think on the top is much better as the ratchet paw operates by gravity. When the paw is underneath a spring is required (often broken or missing).

Either way they are great tools IF you fit them with a Jacobs chuck.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/03 00:54:40 GMT

Was just archiving(printing) some of the 'Guru's Den Archives' and found this 'interesting' situation:
Archive - Aug.25-31,2002-log169k - is a actually a copy of
Archive - Aug.19-24,2002-log151k - and both are headed as
"This is an archive of the posts from July 18-24,2002..."
... I mention this without having checked to see if someone else has recently pointed it out, but since the 'situation' is 'there' now, I thought you'd like to know. :Bob
   Robert Llewellyn - Thursday, 03/06/03 01:00:06 GMT

My son is 14 and he and a friend are very interested in blacksmithing. They have done very simple things such as shaping a straight rod into an S shape with a backyard bonfire pit, a sledge hammer, and a pair of tongs. They are interested in medieval style blacksmithing and want to know how the forges were built back then.

   Tony - Thursday, 03/06/03 01:15:38 GMT

Budsay - to add to 3dogs comment: I use a weed burner as the heat source for my propane forge. Simply built a box for it out of KOA fireboard and 1/2 inch BBQ style firebricks. Works nicely.
   Lorne G - Thursday, 03/06/03 01:33:20 GMT

Guru - I am familiar with rust browning. It was the conversion from ferric to ferrous (or vice versa, not sure on the chemistry atm) in the rust bluing process that prompted the question... After all the hype with some of the commercial anti-rust agents that convert the oxide from common rust to the other, more stable form to get "a protective surface coat..." [much the way (in a non marine invironment) aluminum forms a protective layer of oxidization] I can't remember if that impression is from Chem class or from Rustoleum-ish hype.
   Monica - Thursday, 03/06/03 01:52:17 GMT

what are the buisiness hours?
   Tony - Thursday, 03/06/03 02:04:57 GMT


What business hours, where? Anvilfire? Nearly 18 hours a day, most days, Eastern Standard Time.

As for your son's interest area, where do you live? (approximately) We'll try to get you hooked up with someone local.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/06/03 02:28:50 GMT

We live in the Seattle Washington area, thanks for the times
   Tony - Thursday, 03/06/03 04:10:41 GMT

we live in the Seattle Washington area. Thanks for the times
   Tony - Thursday, 03/06/03 04:13:47 GMT


Which part of the medieval period? The late Roman period had relatively sophisticated forges. See the illustration at: http://www.keenjunk.com/sketchbk/bb90115a.htm

From the late Viking age we have the Mastermyr chest of tools, part of which is being duplicated by ABANA members: http://www.irontreeworks.com/mastermyr.htm

I've posted some information on early medieval blacksmithing at: http://home.attbi.com/~meadmaker/Viking1.htm

One of my friends, Matthew Amt, (http://www.larp.com/midgard/ ) has posted a picture of my early medieval field forge setup at: http://www.larp.com/midgard/02h24.jpg and my anvil setup at: http://www.larp.com/midgard/02h26.jpg (note block anvil, hardy and bick inset into a stump.

By the late medieval period, you have very sophisticated and specialized shops for arms, armor, locks, hardware, and all sorts of goods, as well as general country smithing, which would persist into the industrial revolution.

Medieval blacksmiths shops relied upon two things that are in short supply in the modern world- a large, cheap labor pool, and all the time in the world to learn it right and do it right. Please send us some more information on what period and items he's most interested in and we can provide some more references and advice.

Far too late at night on the banks of the lower Potomac; no overtime from the Great Guru, though! ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/06/03 05:06:28 GMT

2feathers, If you are going to try cable make yourself fuller for your anvil out of a piece of angle iron one inch sides, and a quarter inch thick. Weld a piece of squre metal on the bottom of the "V". The angle iron should be the whith of your anvil. This will be of great help when you hammer your cable. It will help to give support to the sides and bottom of the cable and keeps the twists from pushing out at the sides. I do my cable this way and I get better welds with less effort. JWGBHF
   - JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Thursday, 03/06/03 06:12:38 GMT

The "How to Manual" link on the page "Benders 2" which refers to the Hossfeld bender on the 21st Century page does not seem to be working.
Keith aka-kdbarker
   kdbarker - Thursday, 03/06/03 06:31:14 GMT

Adam, looking for a wheelwright: Have your friend check around and see if there is an Amish community somewhere in the state. The Amish in Indiana, for example are well known for their carriage building, restoration and wheelwright work. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/06/03 07:55:56 GMT

I was reading an old post from 1999. You had stated you picked up a "knock off of a Hossfeld Bender" from Harbor Fright. Could you offer an opinion on the item after having it for a while? Thanks!
Keith aka-kdbarker
   kdbarker - Thursday, 03/06/03 12:42:03 GMT

After 20 years of rain on the bellows my boards are going the canvas seems to be OK so at $0 per year...of course the canvas was *heavily* treated stuff made for the oil patch. Regular canvas would probably have a much shorter life---particularly ou in the rain! It was very heavy and very fire resistant---no holes from the stray flux spray. Leather has a greater "coolness" factor and seems to have been in greater use though the reference in Biringucio does seem to indicate that canvas was used sometimes in renaissance times.

Tony, look at "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel" for an illustration of a high middle ages forge in use.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/06/03 14:30:46 GMT

Ok, so I have diverse interests. Long before I was a blacksmith, I was a street performer (magic, juggling, fire eating, etc. etc.) On a sideshow discussion board that I frequent, the following question was asked. If any of you can help, please email The Great Nippulini. I just found it very strange that there was a question that actually overlapped sideshows and metal workers :-) Anyway, here's the posting:

Spark Help Still Needed!!
From: The Great Nippulini
Date: 01 Mar 2003

Hey there guys, I still got a question, hope I can get some viable help. I'm thinking of combining the angle-grinder act with my nipple act. Here's my idea: Suspend a heavy-duty bench grinder from my nipples (16 pounds), then have a participant plug it in and turn it on. Then I apply a crowbar or such to shoot sparks around the stage. My question is: what material would be most suitable for me to grind off for the most impressive display? How safe is it for the front row of the audience? I heard magnesium is a really bright metal when ground on a wheel, but I also heard that it is very flammable (Rhode Island anyone?). I STILL NEED SOME GOOD ADVICE!

Let me know if anyone can help.

Thanks, The Great Nippulini
   - Marcus - Thursday, 03/06/03 15:48:29 GMT

A very nice presentation on making tongs:


3dogs thanks I will look into that but I dont think there are any Amish in western CO
   adam - Thursday, 03/06/03 16:18:45 GMT


I haven't used it a whole lot, but I can say that it's done everything I've asked it to do, and it's far better made than I expected it to be.

That's also true of their "throatless" shear (it's a knock off of a Beverly #2) that I bought at the same time.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/06/03 16:24:05 GMT

kdbarker; I sent you an e-mail, but it bounced. Go to harborfreight.com and type in item number 44094. When the picture comes up, scroll down to the bottom and key on the "view product manual" bar. You'll need Adobe Reader, if you don't already have it. Harbor Freight, God bless 'em will let you download the whole manual. That tells you how to set it up, use it and make all kinds o' stuff. Enjoy. Best regards, 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/06/03 16:46:27 GMT


Great photos on that tong article web site.

Does anyone know what brand of anvil that is? It looks new.
   Stephen G - Thursday, 03/06/03 17:30:59 GMT

Marcus, tell him *Titanium* gives bright white sparks when ground and is not as flamable as magnesium.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/06/03 17:37:41 GMT

Uh oh, another Tony with a 14 year old son.....

Annabel and Frank, I posted on the Hammer in on the work and life thing.
   - Tony - Thursday, 03/06/03 17:45:14 GMT

Archives Error Bob, Thanks, I'll look. They are probably different content but i missed editing the heading.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/03 18:25:47 GMT

Thanks for the Institute web page on iron and steel, found a lot of great sources, appreciate it!
   leslie - Thursday, 03/06/03 18:57:02 GMT

An additional note to 3dogs about the compact bender from Harbor freight.

They make two models. 44094 is the bench top model, and 31980 is the "compact" floor mount model. I have the floor model.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/06/03 19:23:46 GMT

Making Sparks: Grinder sparks are not only hot but they can embed into and weld to things. Grinder sparks will weld to glass (windshields, plate glass windows and mirrors) ruining them as they can no longer be cleaned. Grinder sparks from steel do not entirely burn up often traveling farther than they appear and can embed in soft materials wood, flesh, eyes. . .

The problem with magnesium is that is is possible to heat the entire piece to the point where it catches on fire. Flaming liquid metal is no fun.

Zirconium is another pyrophoric metal that burns much like magnesium but it is dense enough that large pieces are difficult to set on fire.

For your purposes you will have to experiment but no matter what metal you grind there is none that is truely "safe". All metal sparks are hot enough to set things on fire and to cause serious eye damage.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/03 19:27:29 GMT

Paw Paw and 3dogs,
God bless you! Thanks for the info!

   kdbarker - Thursday, 03/06/03 21:33:53 GMT

Adam, beleive it or not htere seem to be Amish or Mennonites everywhere. There were some here in Oregon a while back... but that could have changed too
   Ralph - Thursday, 03/06/03 21:40:51 GMT

I'm going to pass on the forum address to The Great Nippulini so he can read these suggestions for himself. I thought you guys might get a kick out of his strictly-beyond-the-norm requests. :-)
   - Marcus - Thursday, 03/06/03 21:53:31 GMT


If you haven't already figured it out, just download the manual for the bench top model. It's got the how to information that the floor model doesn't include, and it operates in exactly the same way.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/06/03 22:33:44 GMT

Wire wheel questions:


I use wire wheels to descale and pretty up items I build in my gas forge. I have a 3/4hp 8" bench grinder and a 4 inch angle grinder used for just this purpose.


How long should a wire wheel last? I have had some of the angle grinder wheels not last the day! seems to be more due to wires letting go then wearing down. ( I wear LOTS of safety gear....)

Who would you recommend as a source of good wheels?

Is there any way to slow down a bench grinder? Mine runs at 3750rpm, which I consider to damn fast for a 8" wheel.


   -JIM - Thursday, 03/06/03 22:57:02 GMT

RE bellows
Are you all forgeting the lovely material that comes from the nauga (a fearsome beast to be sure) cheap, relatively resistant to weather, easly patched, and other than a nasty habit of melting from sparks works well.
the bellows for my portable forge are going on there 3rd year with little done to them total cost was around $35
   MP - Thursday, 03/06/03 23:59:09 GMT

Okay, here goes. I've never made or used a great bellows, or even a pretty good bellows. (grin) But. Down here, I have seen one great bellows that is shot, due to the leather having given up the ghost. Not surprising, since it lived in a smithy that was alternately pretty hot during use and then damp at night from humidity caused by sea air. I would imagine that in a more friendly climate, it might have lasted longer.

I do know that none of the ships around here, and there are a LOT of those, have leather sails. Sails seem to do pretty much what the "fabric" on a bellows does, i.e. contain air and flex a lot. It seems to me that it would be fine for bellows. The minimal amount of air that passes through untreated sailcloth shouldn't affect the operation of a bellows much at all.

If I was going to make a double-chambered great bellows, I would use tongue and groove 5/4" yellow pine for the boards, and spline 12 ounce canvas into the edges. It only takes a few minutes with a router to cut the spline groove, and no time at all to spline in the rag. Just a couple of small screws here and there would assure that the spline wouldn't work out in use. When the time comes to replace the fabric, pop out the splines and pop in new fabric. No splitting, no muss, no fuss. Another untested notion somebody should try out. (grin)
   vicopper - Friday, 03/07/03 00:12:28 GMT

I visited the website of the Great Nippulini. He has a picture of himself with an anvil suspended from his nipples. I could not clearly identify the maker of the anvil but it does not appear to be a PW or a HB. Actually it appears to be an ASO purchased on E-bay. Clearly he is either a charlatain or has no appreciation for True Path blacksmithing.
   Quenchcrack - Friday, 03/07/03 00:54:07 GMT

Where can I buy blacksmith coal and refractory clay and supplies near buffalo n.y. thanks for all the great info. on this site thanks
   sellsall - Friday, 03/07/03 01:18:22 GMT

Does anyone have a #50 star power hammer? Any info on it? How would it compare to a home built #50 air hammer?
   jim - Friday, 03/07/03 02:13:22 GMT

Quenchcrack... you are correct.. that is indeed a cast iron ASO made in China. I actually got it through Northern Tool & Equipment Co. catalog. I am neither a charlatain (says so on the front page of my site), nor do I stray from the true path. True anvils are financially out of my reach at the moment. I am planning on purchasing a 40 pound anvil from Fazzio's Steel in N.J. sometime soon.

Regardless of that.... thank you all very much for the informative help in the "grinding-for-spark" area in metallurgy. The following link will take you to a picture of my grinder act. This picture shows a wonderbar (Stanley) in my left hand and a mini-crowbar (Ford) in my right. I get a nice shower from the wonderbar, and about half as much from the crowbar. How would I go about getting a bar of titanium cheap? I work with the material at my piercing studios, so I know it comes with a high pricetag.

Thanks again,
   The Great Nippulini - Friday, 03/07/03 04:04:55 GMT

Thank you all for the links, my son says that they are interested in bladesmithing and toolmaking from 15th century Ireland and 14th century England
   Tony - Friday, 03/07/03 04:07:21 GMT

There are Mennonites, and Hutterites in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, (that is western Canada), and alsocentral and southern Ontario.
Many Amish and most (or maybe all)Hutterites live in colonies. There are less Amish, here in Canada, but I am certain that they are living in parts of Canada, too.
In other words, if you do not find any of these folk in Colorado, think about a province due north of you. I am fairly certain that that step would not be necessary.
Check Google for the location of these 3 denominations of anabaptists.
Actually there are many sub-denominations among the Mennonites, and maybe the Amish.
   slag - Friday, 03/07/03 04:42:45 GMT

Wire Wheels: Jim, Wire brushes come in all kinds of grades and quality. But I have recently found that the user can make a big difference. I had a soft 6" wire wheel on 1/3HP motor (1800 RPM) that last me YEARS! A new helper has used about half the life of the NEW replacement in a week. . . He has put it to harder use than I would have.

Generally if you are breaking wires and wearing out the wheels too fast you need coarser wire. However, I do not like running wire wheels at grinder speeds and slower will help the life without going to a stiffer wheel. As I mentioned, I run my wire wheel on a 1/3HP fan motor. You can purchase cheap arbors that fit a 1/2" motor shaft and have a 1/2" thread. The come in left and right hand threads depending on which way you have the motor set up. A wheel on the right hand side (turning CCW) uses a right hand thread so it is self tightening.

Angle grinders go VERY fast. Mine turn 6,000 RPM. The little 4-1/2" ones run 10,000+ RPM. Few wheels are rated for that speed. Underrated wire wheels will wear out rapidly. Always check the rating closely.

There is no economical way to slow down a bench grinder.
   - guru - Friday, 03/07/03 04:54:37 GMT

ViCopper /// Rotting Leather bellows / & defensive measures.
Neetsfoot oil is used to make leather supple and waterproof, not dry out, and last longer.
It is a fairly low viscosity oil, that can be periodically rubbed onto the bellow's leather exterior, and it could be misted to reach the bellow's interior side of the leather. That is, use the holes to access the bellow's interior, and spray baby spray.
There is no such animal as a neet. So NO poor neets are "sacrificed", and their feet processed to make this miracle product).)
So all yoooz smithing. PETA warriors, BACK OFF).
The oil is a petroleum distillate fraction. (i.e. it comes from oil wells).
Tandy Leather carries it, and it can, sometimes, be bought at some traditional hardware stores. (which should be cheaper.)
Saddle soap could be used to treat the bellow's leather exterior surface. But it cannot be sprayed into the bellow's interior.
I tried it once.
Almost got a hernia trying to get the saddle soap bits into the spray bottle.
Neetsfoot oil; that's the ticket.
Generous regards to all.
located in the G.W.N., where it's wicked cold and humid tonight. (yet one more good reason to freshen my shot-glass of Canadian Wry)
   slag - Friday, 03/07/03 05:03:25 GMT

Comparing a 50# air to a 50# mechanical hammer: This is a difficult comparison. For one thing you are talking about a professionaly enginered machine and a home built of dubious pedigree.

In GENERAL the air hammer will out perform the mechanical. Part of the reason is because the air hammer of the same ram weight uses much more horsepower.. . . Some is the inefficiency of air powered machines but some is also the fact that you can put more power into the air hammer.

As soon as you start comparing home builts (or even some new commercial hammers) to old commercial machines there can be LOTS of differences. For one thing, most home builders short the weight of the anvil reducing the efficiency of the machine. They also tend not to follow plans making changes that can greatly effect performance. On the other hand careful attention to details, research and some practical engineering knowledge can result in a VERY well built home built machine. Quality varies widely.

The Star hammers I have seen were not very good machines when new and old worn out ones do not perform well. A well built air hammer would deffinitely out perform one and be easier to maintain.

Spring is here. Moved the EC-JYH onto a foundation and ran it briefly. Brazed a cracked hot-tub manifold for my next door neighbor tonight using the only rod I had on hand (1/4" bare). . . Need to remember to restock a reasonable size.
   - guru - Friday, 03/07/03 05:12:44 GMT

Box bellows Project: It turns out the box bellows in The Craft of the Japanese Blade is identical as the one posted on the link by Lorne. I have seen two in use and neither looked like this one. Both that I saw were symetrical in cross section (one round the other square) and the manifold hidden on the bottom.

From an engineering standpoint the large rectangular piston has an increased wear problem due to the increased weight on the narrow base. Turning it on its side would increase the seal life by more than double. There are a bunch of solutions for reducing friction and increasing seal life much less extream than using a piece of plate glass for the floor of the bellows. If you are going to use modern materials then Teflon or Delrin sheeting have a high lubricity and excellent wear characteristics. But they are a tad expensive. A metal surface running on a felt surface would be low friction and long wearing as well as sealing well.

There are MANY solutions or improvements but I am going to go simple for a first shot. The wear area problem of the rectangular piston DID give me an idea for improving life that fits my simple design. Will build it soon and see how it does.
   - guru - Friday, 03/07/03 05:32:23 GMT

OK, all you PETA members and other assorted bunnyhuggers, I'm gonna make yer day! Here it is, hot off the pages of my trusty American Heritage Dictionary; "neat's-foot oil. A light, yellow oil obtained from the feet and shinbones of cattle, used chiefly to dress leather."
   3dogs - Friday, 03/07/03 09:34:34 GMT

I don't know about a coal fire but Gas burner flames do produce Ultra Violet light. Many flame control systems use UV sensors to confirm ignition of the pilot before the main burner valve opens. Most burner systems don't require tending and UV damage occurs over time. The lack of OSHA reglations only indicates no one has been sued. OSHA science is litagation based. If they require grinder safety guards someone had been hurt without one. If they require safety glasses there have been injuries where they wern't used. Do you need reading glasses because you're getting older, or because of accumulated exposure? It is far better to error on the side of caution than to be the test case. Glass blowers safety glasses are cobalt in color and block both IR and UV radiation.
   Chris - Friday, 03/07/03 11:56:30 GMT

TGN: Glad I was able to post these comments via the written word. It's hard to speak when ones tongue is firmly pressed into ones cheek. Here's an idea. Hang the anvil from one side, a 2-1/4lb cross-peen from the other side, hold a red hot piece of 2/8" rod in your mouth and see if you can forge a nice S-hook. Now, I'd pay to see that.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 03/07/03 12:07:20 GMT

I hope that I'am doing this right. The manual for the JYH would be worth $10.00. To me there is nothing better than to build something from scrounged materials.Its the best in recycling.Thanks for the ideas Dave
   Dave - Friday, 03/07/03 15:49:03 GMT

The radiation that a fire (or most any object) emits is predominantly a function of its temperature. Gas or coal burning at the same temperature both put out the same distribution of wavelengths. All fires emit some UV and the hotter they are the more they emit. Which is why an electric arc welder, whose temp is about 6000deg produces enough UV to be a health risk. I dont know if a welding fire puts out enough UV to be a concern.

Ralph, you might be right about Amish in CO - how would I go about finding them - think they might be in the Yellow pages - or praps I should search for websites ?
   adam - Friday, 03/07/03 16:49:58 GMT

Ralph - the little emoticon got lost - that last comment was tongue in cheek of course :)
   adam - Friday, 03/07/03 16:51:28 GMT

Thanks for the wire wheel info! It led immediately to my next question: what is the "right" way to use a wire wheel to not wear it out quickly?

Second (unrelated) question: What's a goos source for round head copper rivets? Didn't see them at JayCee...

   -JIM - Friday, 03/07/03 16:55:36 GMT

Adam, not to worry..... Perhaps you should go to the Amish web site and do a search....(grin)

Actually I saw something somewheres where the Amish have actually commisioned a web site or two. They do not personally use it, but have had us more mundane folks run it for them. Seems like it was to sell goods....
Them folks ain't stupid you know... (smile)
   Ralph - Friday, 03/07/03 17:37:01 GMT

Adam; Be on the alert for the sound of "clippety-clop, BANG, clippety-clop, BANG. That'll be the sound of an Amish drive-by shooting. }:<) 3dogs
   3dogs - Friday, 03/07/03 17:44:29 GMT

OSHA and Safety Warnings, and Litigation Based Systems.

OK, guys, let's take a look at some of the things folks have presumably done.... Chainsaws with the warning "do not attempt to stop chain with hands or genitals." GENITALS?????

Or there's the hair curlers "do not put this in any bodilly orifice while plugged in."

I get a little sick of litigation that amounts to "You didn't protect me from my own stupidity."
   Monica - Friday, 03/07/03 22:45:37 GMT

So, then like what is the proper way to stop a chainsaw?
   adam - Saturday, 03/08/03 00:01:16 GMT

Stopping a chainsaw with your 'nads will get you a spot in the new EX-men movie.
   John McPherson - Saturday, 03/08/03 01:59:56 GMT

Hey guys I finaly found someone who forges blades close to home (5 miles away) I can`t wait To see all of your info in action. I`ll let you know what I learn.

P.S. I`ll still need ya`ll alot
   Blades - Saturday, 03/08/03 02:07:51 GMT

Sir, I have filled out the registration form and submitted it three times over the last several weeks, and still have not been registered. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong so I went over to my friends house,(Bill Epps) and we tried on his computer also, still no luck. He suggested I write to you on this page to try to find out why. Thank you, mark
   hilandhillbilly - Saturday, 03/08/03 03:45:53 GMT

Thanks for the air, mechanical and star hammer info.Can you recommened sources for relable plans or upgrades for building an air hammer?
   jim - Saturday, 03/08/03 04:23:58 GMT


The Kinyon air hammer plans sold by ABANA ( http://www.abana.org ) work well. There is also an improved and simplifed circuit for the same hammer on the Alabama Forge Council Page ( http://afc.abana-chapter.com/ ) Scroll down to the Alabama Forge Council link.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/08/03 04:34:12 GMT

Paw Paw
Please, please, please the next chapter please. My wife said I'm getting unbearable. It may save a marriage. I'm a grin'n. JWGBHF
   JWG Bleeding Heart Forge - Saturday, 03/08/03 05:14:09 GMT

Hey Blades, if it isn't something too personal to ask, who is you've found? I'm by no means guarranteed to have heard of them, but if I have, then it's pretty neat for me. (Not like in cows, though.) ;-)
   - Stormcrow - Saturday, 03/08/03 05:27:22 GMT

I attended an antique and collectibles auction in central Texas yesterday because there was an ASO in the preview pictures. Turned out to be about a 75 Lb Eagle Fisher in very good condition, maybe ex-military due to the grey paint on the sides. A guy paid $297 for it and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a door stop.
Sigh, it's sad to see useful tools become yard art.

- C
   chris smith - Saturday, 03/08/03 11:57:33 GMT

Pub Regstrations: I am ashamed to say that I am two months behind. This is the worst I've let it go. I have needed full time office help for anvilfire for at least 2 years but it may be another year or two before there will be sufficient cash flow to hire help. Currently I am behind on billing, tases, Paw-Paw's story, iForge demos, book reviews . . . Much of my time has had to go to paying work such a couple websites that I maintain and I am behind on THAT. Currently the only thing I do not let get behind or delayed is sales from our store. And THAT is something that is taking a lot of my time AND may eventually pay for office help so that I can return to working on anvilfire 16 hours a day. . . As I have for most of 5 years.

Sorry for the Inconvienience.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/08/03 14:32:29 GMT

Removing a hammer handle: The new French pattern hammer that I just got from Kaynes has loosened up enough to be annoying. No surprise - it's bone dry here in NM. Since I just finished shaving the handle down to suit me, I am reluctant to saw it off at the neck and make a new handle. Trying to drift it out through the top of the eye only jams the wedge in. Any tips or tricks?
   adam - Saturday, 03/08/03 16:21:27 GMT

Stormcrow, His name is Dale Lennon he lives in Emory, Texas (5miles from me)too cool huh. anyway do you know him?
   Blades - Saturday, 03/08/03 17:18:48 GMT


If you've already pushed the wedge in further, no can help. But if the wedge is near the top try to make a knick with a sharp, small cold chisel (if you have a spare 1/4 inch [6.4mm to us in the UK] wood chisel for rough work [finding nails etc] that is better). The object is to create a small knick then leaver the wedge out. Start on one corner, then once itís moved work the opposite corner and 'walk' it out until it can be gripped with some nippers or side cutters (more positive grip). This has worked on 2 of 4 occasions for me (one of the fails was expected from the start, and the chisel was only ever blunted, not burred, hammer wedges are SOFT.

Hope thats some help
   Nigel - Saturday, 03/08/03 19:13:54 GMT

Leaver....I thought I had proof read that.
   Nigel - Saturday, 03/08/03 19:16:50 GMT

Nigel - good idea - will try it - although it has a fancy H shaped wedge. I have just the chisel you referred to :). I was thinking of heating it with the torch using a small welding tip until it gets hot enough to char the wood a bit

Thanks for your help
   adam - Saturday, 03/08/03 19:20:23 GMT

Got it! The top of the handle was recessed in the eye making it impossible to get enough leverage for Nigel's method. Used the torch and the wedge just lifted right up by itself about 1/8" and came out easily with pliers. Left a slightly charred socket and just a bit of charring on the top from the oxy acetylene flame. I will glue in a wooden wedge to make up the charred material and then reassemble with a steel wedge.

   adam - Saturday, 03/08/03 19:46:55 GMT

Blades - No, I have not heard of him. Not too surprising, but it was worth a shot. That's good that you found someone that close. Have fun banging iron!
   - Stormcrow - Saturday, 03/08/03 22:07:58 GMT

Wedges, Good idea. It helps to soak the handle at the eye with linseed oil. The oil swells the wood like water but does not evaporate.

Another method to get the wedge out with little damage is to weld a piece to it with MIG or rod and then quench quickly to prevent burning the wood (too much). Then worry out the wedge gently. Cut off and clean up the wedge and reuse.

Odd ball temporary welds can save a lot of grief and damage to other parts. I recently welded some oversize hex nuts to worn rounded bolts on a mower in order to remove the bolts. This gave adequate bite for the wrench on the VERY stuck bolts. Since the bolt heads were severely worn they had to be replaced anyway.

I've also welded a piece of bar to a broken bolt shank in order to use a hammer and break the threads loose.

Imagination is your most powerful tool.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/08/03 23:23:42 GMT

Back when I was still willing to work on cars, I used to use a welding trick to get oil pressure relief valves out of engine blocks. You stick the rod down into the valve slug, then briefly flip the welder on and off. The rods freezes to the slug, you pull the thing out of the bore, the wiggle the rod a bit and it pops off the slug. Same trick works for getting other stuck lthings out, like wedges, dowel pins, etc.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/09/03 03:46:50 GMT

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