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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 17 - 23, 2003 on the Guru's Den
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Small amounts of Kaowool: Gary, I have been planning a "repair kit" for a long time that was going to contain a small amount of ITC-213, a swatch of kaowool, stainless screws and washers and some instructions. It would be sold with or without ITC-100. I guess I need to get busy. . .

But you are right, the patch you made was pretty small. When you said you used up all the ITC-200 I thought you were talking about a pint. I must have sent you a little 1-1/2 oz. sample. . .

I use a loose forge burner like a "weed burner" for curing between coats of ITC on dissasembled forges and furnaces but use the furnace itself if it still has the burner installed. It only takes a little heat to cure the ITC-100 sufficiently to prevent a second brushed coat from softening the first. Once fired it is water proof.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/16/03 17:09:31 GMT


Let's take the discussion to the Hammer-in forum, we can help you there and not clutter the Guru's den per Jock's wishes.

I for one have enjoyed this topic -- just one more eclectic Backsmithing topic to tackle... ;-)
   Zero - Sunday, 03/16/03 20:57:41 GMT

Guru.. is ITC-100 affected by being frozen ? just found the half pint I thought I had put in the heated paint storge elsewhere :(
   Mark P - Monday, 03/17/03 00:24:09 GMT

Guru, I must have misstyped or something, but I did indeed use very little of the pint of itc-200 I bought...hope it lasts in the bottle (I double ziplocked the bottle with no air in it, so it should be fine). You of course were right, the buildup did crack in two places, but vertically, and the second coat of -100 fixed it right up. The only question/problem left is the door. According to the tutorial, I was not to put any on the area of the door that forms the gasket, which makes sense. There are, however, three "steps" in that area. The first is from the section that touches nothing and extends into the forge, and the second area is the compressed area that contacts the internal (upper and sides) surface of the inner lining. The third is the compressed area that contacts the matal shell itself. I applied only to the uncompressed area, and upon firing, it bound up a bit and pulled the surface away when I opened the door. Should I have also painted the area that contacts the inner kaowool lining? Hope I'm being clear here. Thanks
   Gary LARose - Monday, 03/17/03 01:33:23 GMT


You should have let the area of the door that was coated with ITC-11 dry before closing the door. If you wanted to speed the drying a bit, you could have lit the forge without closing the door. I'd suggest that you re-patch and follow this procedure.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/17/03 01:41:27 GMT

No, you should not have coated the area, that contacts the inner kaowool lining, I don't think. But the guru will correct me if I'm wrong on that. Jock?
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/17/03 01:42:15 GMT

Paw Paw, I did let the door dry completely both coats (the first coat caused only a tiny pullout after firing, but the second coat, again completely dryed before firing, pulled most of the face of the soft fiber door forward. I'm betting that, due to it's gritty texture, it just catches on the kaowool innerliner enough to pull the layers apart when you open the door. Suspecting that I need to coat the second step as well.
   Gary LARose - Monday, 03/17/03 03:20:22 GMT

Hmm... Strange I didn't have any problem at all with mine. I'll look tomorrow and see exactly what we coated.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/17/03 04:51:51 GMT

guru or anyone: Can one use a Homemade refractory made from firebricks in place of Kaewool (temporarily) for a small gas forge? and if so would there be problems with it falling off of the top of a round tank like forge?
   Blades - Monday, 03/17/03 07:55:06 GMT

Blades, Maybe Lionel Oliver can do you some good if you're looking for something temporary. Underscore "temporary". he shows a small, short term foundry furnace, using homebrewed refractory cement. See backyardmetalcasting.com/bucketfurnace1.html Pretty good website for the financially conservative (cheapskate) metalworker. Check out the whole website while you're there, pretty cool stuff. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Monday, 03/17/03 09:14:33 GMT

ITC Freezing: Mark, I keep ITC stored in a heated place but I HAVE had some of my personal stock freeze without hurting it. As a water based ceramic/clay slurry freezing does not hurt it but it CAN damage the container and repeated freezing and thawing can seperate the water making it difficult to mix and use.

It it NOT like certain water based paints or carpenter glue that turns to rubber and is useless after freezing.

I often use ITC-100 directly from the jaw mixing a little water into the top with a brush. When finished I usualy add a little water to cover the surface to prevent drying. ITC-213 comes from the factory sealed with tape like all the ITC products but is ALSO packaged in a zip-lock bag. I suspect this is a good practice for partialy used containers of all the ITC products put in storage.

ZIP-Lock Bags: I have started using these in my shop to protect tools from rust. I have many small precision and hand made tools that I may not use for years at a time. I clean and oil them with thin oil like WD-40 and then puts sets of them in a zip-lock bag. This keeps the oil from collecting and being absorbed by dust as well as keeping moist air from causing rust.

I live in a creek bottom where the humidity is high year round and daily temperature fluctuations are higher than normal. So besides being a "frost pocket" it is also a "rust pocket". Wirebrushing and sanding rust off tools is a constant job even when most tools are kept oiled and put away. Zip-lock bags are a new tool in the fight against rust that seems to work quite well. However, I am sure that after a few years exposure to solvents that I will find crumbling plastic in my tool chests. But until then my tools will be protected better than before.
   - guru - Monday, 03/17/03 13:44:46 GMT

Coating Forge Door Kaowool: Coating the kaowool in the door of your forge helps the efficiency and protects the kaowool from breaking down and getting that dusty surface. However, if you do a lot of odd shaped work through the port in the door the area around the port will see some damage. All you can do is touch it up occasionaly.

ITC-100 applied over heavily used Kaowool blanket and board may not stick well due to the dusty surface. Occasionaly large pieces will flake off. On used blanket surfaces it will help to cut little slits in the surface spaced about 2" apart or a little less, then working some ITC-100 into the cuts before coating the surface. This will provide some anchorage for the coating.
   - guru - Monday, 03/17/03 14:00:02 GMT

Forge Welding Ti, yes in a hard vacuum; possibly on earth if using fluxes of such nastiness that you'd be forging in a "moon suit" and the forge hood would be going directly into a *very* *expensive* air purification system.

I don't recall ever hearing of anyone forge welding Ti in a blacksmith's forge.

After regular forging you can of course anodize it---you may want to grind or sanblast the surface clean though.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/17/03 14:38:29 GMT

Homemade Refractory and Forge Design: Blades, The tubular forges in common use take advantage of the materials they are made from. Ceramic blanket is very light weight and when arched into a small tube stays put. Castable refractories which are very dense AND quite strong are also used to make tube forges.

Making arch top furnaces using bricks is somewhat of an art. Special tapered bricks are made for commercial use but arches are often built with common brick.

Computer, ARCH! (Star Trek holodeck command . . . )
To make a brick arch you start with an arch shaped plywood form to support the arch. The form is held up by easily removed legs so that the form can be removed without damage to the arch or the form. Then bricks are arranged on the form narrow edge down in a normal overlaping brick pattern. Then refractory mortar is worked loosely into the joints. The arch can also be dry-masoned by using chips of brick in the wedge shaped spaces between bricks. Grog or sand is often used to fill the rest. Tighten the arch by gently taping down on the bricks and wedges (chips). A complete arch is self supporting as long as the sides cannot spread. Tie bars spanning the arch at the outside are often used on forges and furnaces to prevent the base from spreading and the arch becomming loose.

Brick Forges are best made with a flat roof and common brick stacking techniques. Common bricks are 9" long which means you can make a flat roof spanning 8" with just a corner of the bricks resting on the side walls. They also make extra long refractory bricks that will span 12".

Flat brick forge and kiln roofs are also made by laying out the bricks on edge on a flat surface and then tightly clamping them together with steel straps and threaded rod. The hardware for doing this is often made such that it can be tightened on both axiis. When the furnace is heated the bricks expand and arch up. When the furnace cools there should be enough tension to keep the bricks in place. This method requires a good quality refractory brick that are all exactly the same thickness (no mixing of brands or types).

Castable: If you are considering breking up brick and then mixing with refractory mortar there are better ways. IF you have refractory mortar available then the same source should have castable refractory. Castable is relatively inexpensive and not too difficult to use. For a one off forge temporary forms made of cardboard or papermache' are best. I've made permanent wood forms and it is time consuming and not worth the effort unless you are considering a production molding operation. Cardboard and paper forms can be burned out while curing the castable refractory.

Castable needs to set and air dry for a week or more then it can be force dried at low heat (I used a propane torch stuck in the burner port and let it run all day). Once it is set and dried it needs to be fired to achieve full strength. This requires using the forge burner to slowly bring the refractory up to heat over a period of hours or a day. You run the burner a few minutes at a time letting the heat slowly soak into the refractory. Gradually you run it longer and longer until the refractory starts to glow red. Any spalling of the refractory or obvious hissing of steam indicates you need to slow down. Once dried and brought up to heat it is ready for normal use.

I have found that hard refractories (and brick) that have not been used for a long time (several months or more) need to be heated slowly to drive off the water absorbed over time. I usualy fire the forge until steam or water starts to come out and then shut it down and let the heat soak through and finish the job. Half an hour later it can be fired up and most of the moisture is gone.
   - guru - Monday, 03/17/03 14:53:46 GMT

Kaowool Forge Lining: We sell a lot of Kaowool for this purpose as many folks are building the forges found on the Ron Reil page. It is not the best material for a forge. It is relatively expensive and cannot withstand a lot of mechanical abuse. However, it IS a very good insulator and greatly improves the efficiency of small forges. It is also VERY fast to build with and results in a light weight product.

I spent over two weeks making a castable lined furnace using an old propane tank. . (forms, casting, curing). But I have also built several little melting furnaces using kaowool that only took about 4 hours and about half of that time was spent cutting the freon tanks they were built with. Installing the kaowool AND coating it with ITC-100 took the rest of the time. The furnace was ready to use as soon as completed (by force drying the ITC-100) and did not require days of curing. These little furnaces are also VERY light weight and can be held in one outstreatched hand. The furnace made from castable takes two people to move. . .

I like heavy durable tools but light weight can be REALLY handy.
   - guru - Monday, 03/17/03 15:08:42 GMT

I am artist that works in metal. I have been applying texture using a circular grinder on stainless, brass and copper. I am looking for a way to clear seal my pieces. I create objects for both indoor and outdoor.
   Pattie L - Monday, 03/17/03 17:09:35 GMT

More Kaowool:

I bought some 1" Kaowool and ITC-100 from Jock and relined my little firebrick forge (4"x4"x9") this weekend. I'd say the combo improved the forge heating by 30% or more.

Plus... You won't find better shipping -- 2 days door to door from clean across the country!
   Zero - Monday, 03/17/03 18:58:29 GMT

Does anyone know where I might be able to get designs for gauntlets, or armlets?

Pattie L. I'm not an expert at sealing things but I suggest that you try a thin coating of a clear epoxy spread over the pieces.
   Kevin King - Monday, 03/17/03 18:59:35 GMT

Zero, thanks! Sometimes the system WORKS!

Clear Coat: Pattie, Clear lacquer is your best bet. You want Dupont Automotive clear lacquer. It is pricy and only comes in gallons now days. It will require about three to five gallons of thinner to use the gallon PLUS extra to clean up the spray gun. The metal needs to be absolutely clean (no oil or salt from hand prints).

Lacquer dries quickly so dust is usualy not a problem unless you paint outdoors on a windy day. In humid weather you want the expensive slower drying thinner to prevent hazing from moisture in the spray. Be sure to drain the compressor tank and filter before starting.

Epoxy is good but difficult to apply smoothly and the crystall clear stuff is only available in commercial quantities.
   - guru - Monday, 03/17/03 21:15:23 GMT

Gas Forge Construction: I have had good results using a thin liner of hard refractory wrapped with kaowool and then a couple or three inches of pearlite between the kaowool and the sheetmetal.

   - adam - Tuesday, 03/18/03 00:09:46 GMT

Guru, thanks for the info on my frozen ITC100 with the winter I have had here the freeze/thaw cycle din't happen more than twice (groan) so I've brought it in to thaw and will put in a new container just in case....

I have seen several times people suggesting citric acid as a descaler I have a couple of kilos of this product (don't ask) what is the concentration that it should be used at... or is this another by guess and by God method :)

the end of winter is in sight theres unfrozen water in my driveway :)
   Mark P - Tuesday, 03/18/03 00:38:54 GMT

Can you let me know where I can get pitch? I need about 10 pounds of medium pitch. Thannks Gordon
   gordon kirby - Tuesday, 03/18/03 03:04:21 GMT


Talk to a roofing company that does flat roofs.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 03:07:19 GMT

Any thoughts on lining the hearth of a cast iron forge, is it needed and what to use?
   dead center dave - Tuesday, 03/18/03 05:03:48 GMT

I am an 18 year old senior at Nampa High School in Nampa ID. I have just taken up the craft of blacksmithing. I am trying it for a project @ school. The first time I picked had any experience with hot steel was the other day when my mothers husband had me cut some with an acetelyne torch. Now, I love what is done in the i-Forge with the archived demos. I have read many and tried a few, but they seem fairly advanced I am not doing well with them. Are there any similar sites or archieves that do the same but with more rudementary projects?? Thanks for your time.
   Jon Sutter - Tuesday, 03/18/03 06:32:41 GMT

Hello! / help!

I'm trying to forge a piece of 3/16" square stock c-260/cart. brass....I need to hammer one end to 1/2" wide or just over....but I am having trouble..after about the 2nd or third re-heating..the brass cracks and crumbles. I'm new to this venture and would like some practical advice... help?!

   david - Tuesday, 03/18/03 13:32:04 GMT

It is a great thing that someone has put together a website such as this. A website for blacksmiths from all over to share knowledge, tricks of the trade, and such with each other and with those who are interested in becoming smiths themselves. The younger generation who are discovering the older arts such as smithing are the future of this craft and need to be able to gain the knowledge of those who can and are willing to teach. UNFORTUNATELY, THEY WILL NOT GET THAT HERE, SINCE GETTING NEW MEMBERS REGISTERED SEEMS TO BE UNIMPORTANT, AND COMES SECOND TO PROFIT FROM THE STORE. You know, if this web page was strictly intended to be for the "good ole' boy club" and those of us studying the craft, eager to learn, aren't invited, maybe you should have a little banner at the opening of your page stating so, then we could just move on and find someplace else that cares enough to do what this webpage was intended to do.After waiting for going on two months to get access to the registered users only part of this page, I am highly dissapointed at the total lack of commitment to bringing others into what seems to be the "inner circle". And what about those who have done demos for this site who were passed over? I happen to know that a certain "ladysmith" did a demo that has never been posted, and frankly she's a little pissed. Can't say I blame her. I ain't real tickled myself.
   hilandhillbilly - Tuesday, 03/18/03 14:35:39 GMT

Jon Sutter:
I don't know what you have to work with for tools or raw stock but, iforge #'s 20,23,81,102 and 108 aren't too bad to start with. The drive hooks are some super handy items to boot. If you're interested in smithing beyond your school project you might make the investment on a few of the books on the review list. Authors Bealer and Andrews were two of my first and helped a lot.
   Gronk - Tuesday, 03/18/03 15:05:56 GMT

Good ole' boy club? GOOD OLE' BOY CLUB!?!?

We ARE NOT a "good ol' boy club". We're a secret society bent on world domination -- big difference!...

If you'll check the "what's new" page, you'll see that Jock's been REALLY busy the last few months. Cut him some slack, he deserves to have simple things like: Food; Heat; Clean Laundry; etc... Last time I looked, those things cost MONEY.

Hillbilly: Are you joining the Slack Tub Pub, or CSI? CSI is our "Inner Sanctum" where we share ALL the secrets of life. The Pub is, well, just a Chat Room.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek... ;-)
   Zero - Tuesday, 03/18/03 15:06:44 GMT

can anyone offer me any suggestions to my questions stated above or recommend a different website?
   david - Tuesday, 03/18/03 15:37:07 GMT

You haven't got a clue about what it takes to operate this site. I personally know Jock (guru) and I know that this is a 10 - 16 hour a day job. All you have to do is sit on your butt and gain the valuable info that is offered. He has forgotten more than you will ever know and he offers that knowledge to us all.
If you feel you have been ignored I am absolutely sure it is not intentional. Jock is not that kind of guy. He is very busy and does his best to keep everyone happy.
I will stop here because I have a feeling you are about to get many comments from others.

   - Paul - Tuesday, 03/18/03 15:47:48 GMT

HillyandBilly, This huge web site is manned by ONE person, ME. I work at it 10 to 12 hours a day practicaly every day and have done so for over 5 years now. For those labors I earn roughly $2/hour (from advertisers, sales and CSI memberships). In past years it was considerably less for more labor. In order to survive I also maintain other folks web-sites in my "extra" time. This makes my days at the PC 12 to 18 hours day.

On anvilfire THIS page comes first. We attempt to answer EVERY question no matter what the subject. Most are almost answered in "real time". That normally takes 4 to 6 hours of my day. I also get an equivalent number of questions via e-mail which take another 3 to 4 hours a day. For five plus years we have answered every question. No other forum on the internet outside of a few small industry forums on very narrow subjects address every question the way we do here. Then there is page archiving, FAQ editing, banner creation and maintenance (I make them ALL), image editing for the iForge demos (takes a full 8 hour day to edit the images and setup a demo). . . . Oh yeah, I also handle all the orders from our store, pack and ship them as well as answer sales calls.

The slack-tub pub has become a huge maintainance problem for me. It was NOT designed to be a high traffic long running chat. In fact the author of the program abandond it about the time we started using it. We have modified it greatly but the registration system is currently a multi-step manual process requiring the use of manual editors, hand input and manual address checking. Registrations are currently close to nearly full time job level. So, after 10 hours answering questions and a couple hours maintanance, working two or three hours on client's pages. . . there is a stack of pub registrations to process.

NO, you don't need to tell me I need to find a volunteer to handle them. Paw-paw and others have already given me that lecture several times. The current problem is that there is no software system that I can just turn over to someone. Creating such a system would take about a month working full time. . . I do not have the time. Nor the money. The other solution is to have someone do it in-house. That would be the easiest solution but there is no money for a full time office employee.

When we launched CSI is was supposed to help the problem. However, membership is only about 100 and it will take 600 to cover a full time employee and the necessary facilities (computer, phone line, desk, office space. . .).

The other option is to charge a fee to use the Pub (about $8/month). However, I doubt few would want to pay and such a system would block out the many students and those without credit cards. Currently we have over 2,000 registered and probably 100 or less regular users.

So meanwhile we limp along.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/18/03 15:51:52 GMT

David: Not everyone here works brass. I certainly don't but its my understanding that brass work hardens. (the more you hit it the harder it gets) I'm guessing that it is shattering by the time 3 heats comes around. From the archives here its said to bring it to a cherry red and quench it to anneal to soften it up. I'm sure an in-depth archives search would yield more.
   Gronk - Tuesday, 03/18/03 16:07:11 GMT

I've been reading the archives about using castable or kiln shelves as sacrificial forge floors for welding. I'm planning to try making a few in a knock apart mold with Mizzou castable, 3/4" - 1" thick and raised edges to catch runoff.
Are there any additives, binders or coatings that would be useful to add to the castable when used specifically for this purpose ?
Is castable more or less resistant to flux damage than Cordierite kiln shelves ?
Also I was wondering if you have ever tried drying the castable under vacuum ?

thank you


   chris smith - Tuesday, 03/18/03 16:26:40 GMT

Forging Brass: David, it sounds like you are working the brass too cold OR overheating the brass. Overheated copper alloys seperate and crumble. The thinned metal is probably heating much faster than the bar it is attached to. You can work brass cold after annealing but there is a limit to how much. Many light blows will cause work hardening and less deformation than heavy blows doing more deformation. When hot working on a cold anvil the metal cools very quickly. Hot forged brass needs to be worked quickly and in few blows.

If you are using light blows and work the brass cold too long then you are developing cracks.

Normally on a piece this small you should be able to flatten it to shape in one heat. However the width you are attempting results in a thickness only 1/16" IF most of the deformation is directional (in width). It will be half that thickness if you are not using a fuller to control direction.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/18/03 16:41:14 GMT

Jon - entry level projects
Anvilfire iForge tongs demo #132 is about as easy as it gets. The fellow that did the demo was 10 years old. Iforge demo #112, by the same fellow when he was 9 years old, demonstrates several blacksmithing techniques combined into one simple project. It is the techniques that, once developed, allow you to move on to larger and more complicated projects.

Start with the projects you are able to do now. Make more than one each project to practice the skill and technique it demonstrates. It is the practice and understanding, that only comes with doing the work, that develops your skills. Then you are able to move on to bigger projects.

Learn all you can about the ox/ac torch (cutting, welding, brazing, etc) from your mother's husband. It will be good knowledge for the future.
   - Ntech - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:05:38 GMT

Hmm..so on a piece of c-260/cartridge brass 3/16 x 3/16...in order to flatten it to half an inch wide on one end..(like a flattened spoon!) should I heat it to cherry red, let it cool and then work it without re-heating? Should I heat it to cherry red, quench it, THEN try and work it flat...or should I heat to a diff. temp.

(p.s. I appreciate all the help you can give me guys, thanks)
   david - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:06:39 GMT

You know it's almost funny.

hilandhillbilly has this massive complaint and these accusations about the "profits from the store, and good old boys club.

But he/she/it can't be found on the CSI list, either under his/her/it's psuedonom, or under his/her/it's supposed "real" name.

In other words, a cry baby free loader.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:09:07 GMT

Mebbe one should check out one of the other websites just like this one. Wait a minute.......uh...THERE AIN'T ANY!'Nuff said.3dogs
   3dogs - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:16:08 GMT

Mark P,

The recommended concentyration for citric acid for passivating stainless steel is 15% by weight. A slightly weaker solution, about 10% by weight works fine for descaling mild steel. Ideal temperature for use is 100ļ F.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:16:26 GMT


Well I know others have responded to this, but I want to add this.
Why don't you go and make your own web site and then after you have run it the way you think it should be done, with no problems etc, come back and really look at anvilfire.
Have you even bothered to look thru the archives? Have you perused all the sections of this web page? If you had I think you would realize just how much this web page does fot the new smith. Unless of course you are just wanting to be pissy, then I would suggest that you go and hang out in another site.
I know that I and others have volunteered to help, but as Guru said at this point in time it is rather difficult to do so. Partly due ot money , but also due to the fact that we are all so far apart in location that is it hard to transfer duties etc.
As for 'ladysmith' and the demo, I do know that Guru had addressed that very issue. And he is not passing over any demo... it is just a matter of scheduling it around all the other things he is doing as well as doing the demos in the order they come in.

Basically have patience, wait and learn. After all if you profess to want to learn how to smith then patience is one of the biggest things you have to learn. Otherwise you will ruin lots of steel and iron and waste a bunch of fuel.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:17:39 GMT

There ya go, Jim, the K of C boys, the Masons and the CSI are gonna establish a New World Order and enslave us all!
   3dogs - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:19:22 GMT

...when annealing brass..does it matter how long the brass is heated? In other words ..to fully soften the brass..is there an optimal time for it to be heated..5 minutes? half hour? hmm..
   david - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:25:36 GMT


Uh, CSI has some lady members, too.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:34:17 GMT


Evidently you are having an issue with the delay in registration for the Slack Tub Pub. I'm assuming this is the case, as CSI memberships are processed very rapidly, swince they help to support the site. The Pub is a chat area and NOT really part of the question-answering function at Anvilfire. I know from experience how labor intensive maintaining a chatroom is, so I'm not surprised that registrations for it are a ways behind. After all, the return on investment is next to nothing. Would you do it any differently?

As far as your allegation about this being a "good old boys' club", you're dead wrong. And rude about it, to boot. Being wrong isn't a fault, but being rude is. Some truly inane questions get asked here, but all are answered as honestly and reasonably as possible. Can you say the same about your diatribe?

I do not represent Anvilfire, nor its personnel or advertisers. I am just one more smith who enjoys this site, has paid his dues to CSI, and tries to contribute something worthwhile when he can. I, for one, object strenuously to your egregious and unwarranted attack upon this site, and upon me by inclusion.

I must add here, that I have come to know Mr. Jock Dempsey, the site owner, through my association with this site, and have come to admire him quite a bit. He has shown himself to be extraoridinarily generous, fair-minded and human. If at times fhe appears to be a bit irrascible, I can only say that his threshold for nonsense is much higher than mine would be in the same position. I would have simply deleted your post, were I the webmaster. What would you do in the same position?

Nota Bene: I post this not so much for the edification of Hilandhillbilly (who probably won't read it) as for those who may search the archives for guidelines to etiquette.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:38:13 GMT

PawPaw; Oops, sorry, I forgot the Eastern Stars and the Ladies' Aid Society. (smirk)
   3dogs - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:40:29 GMT

Starter Projects: Jon, Forging is a skill that takes practice and patience. Unless you have used a hammer a lot in your life (carpentry, tree houses, sculpture) it takes a lot of work to become proficient. Just having the strength to weild the hammer is not enough, you need the hand eye cordination which comes only from practice.

Assorted Hooks photo (c) by Jock DempseyWhen doing public demos I makes hooks. Lots and lots of hooks. J-hooks, S-hooks, drive hooks. . . Besides being relatively fast and easy they are good practice. The hooks in the photo were made by my apprentice.

Each J-hook has a drawn point, a scroll, a dressed and flattened end (on J-hooks) and a twist. Good hooks have a tight delicate scroll on the end and curve back slightly so the scroll is balanced over the curve of the hook. The flattened end needs to be dressed, flattened, dressed some more and finally flattened over the horn to make a nice round or ovoid end. They can be made of round or square but I prefer square.

S-hooks should have a gracefull curve that flows from one end to the other. Like the J-hook the end scroll should be tight and smooth. On round stock you can make slight flats and twist the center. I prefer round stock for S-hooks but also make them in square.

1/4" round or square stock is the best size to work as it is heavy enough to make nice hooks and small enough to be easy to forge. 3/8" is good for large heavy hooks such as the gun hooks in the photo above.

Hammer weight is also a critical consideration. Most people start off with too heavy of a hammer and have difficulty controlling it. A good starter weight is 800 grams or 1-3/4 pounds (28 oz). This is heavy enough for light forging and light enough to learn hammer control. Some smiths use this size or up to 1,000 grams (2.2pounds) and use fast quick blows rather than slow heavy blows for almost all their work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:42:43 GMT

More on Starting Out: Yes, you may have noted that I mentioned having an apprentice. Teaching always teaches the teacher. Mostly I learn what other folks did not grow up doing. . . Or that we all learn differently. I've been using a hammer regularly since I was 9 or 10 years old and built my first tree-house. I've also done a lot of carpentry work as well as scupture before getting into smithing. . . It all contributes to hammer control. Something that most folks never have a chance to learn until they decide to get into a craft like blacksmithing.

I've found that folks that have not had a lot of hammering experiance have even less hitting a chisel and get very frustrated. There are some tricks and metal excersises when it comes to using punches, chisels and hand held fullers.

The interesting fact to remember is that these tools need acurate positioning and alignment yet we use our left (or "untrained" off hand) to wield these tools and do the gross striking work with our other supposedly trained hand. . .

Well, when you are holding that tool in your off hand you are swinging a big dangerous piece of steel AT that hand with the other. . . Your TRAINED hand is doing this to protect the other from pain. You want the best aimed blows as possible to avoid misses, pain and possibly serious injury. One hand protects the other. You use the one that is best trained for that task.

Now. . if you practice and don't think about it too hard you know exactly WHERE both of your hands are without looking. The trained hand can strike a chisel held behind your back because IT KNOWS where the off hand holding that chisle is. . . Both hands work together. The off hand leads and the other should be able to follow in the dark.

When sculpting, engraviing, chiseling and fullering we need to look at the tool where it contacts the work NOT where the struck end is. This is especialy true in hot work where the time to glance up and aim is time that work has to cool. An occasional glance is OK (usualy for the first blow) but you can not afford it between every blow.

If you have difficulty hiting those tools without constantly looking at the struck end then THINK about the things above and do some mock chiseling practice OR get a block of soft wood and a chisel and do some carving. Wood takes much lighter blows than steel and a sculpture takes lots of work. . . resulting in practice.

Practice, think about the learing goal but NOT to hard on the aiming. The aiming of the hammer and one hand finding the other without looking should come naturaly without a great deal of effort. Relax, it will come to you.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/18/03 18:21:54 GMT

You got an AMEN here, Vic.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 03/18/03 17:43:00 GMT


I have a little more to add, mostly because I am 1) definatly NOT one of the old BOYS, and 2) I am new to blacksmithing.

I have found this site to be invaluable to me. I have had only a few questions, but not getting them answered would have definately handicaped me in setting up my shop. I have also learned countless things from simply listening in on others questions and the answers.

I have noticed no gender bias, nor a bias to older, more experienced smiths. The closest that can be seen is some tiredness with the newcomers to smithing automatically wanting to do swords (i.e. wanting to jump in at the nuclear science stage, and skip basic physics).

Jock has apologized, and explained his being delayed on most of the site. I acknowledge that he indicated that he was keeping the store most up to date, but even there, he hasn't been able to keep it as up as he'd like (forge patch kits, for instance). I'm sorry this offends you, but the store pays the bills. If the bills don't get paid, this entire site goes away. It's not ideal, but IT IS REALITY.
   Monica - Tuesday, 03/18/03 18:05:03 GMT


Once the brass is up to a dull red heat, (viewed in a dimly lit room), just quench it immediately in room temperature water. No "soaking" time is required at red heat. The reason for this is that brass is a copper alloy with high thermal conductivity. The heat will be the same all the way through it by the time you get it up to heat.

Remember that all copper alloys, like most non-ferrous metals, work harden quickly. The minute is feels like it is resisting the hammer, stop and anneal it. Extra annealings won't hurt it at all, but even a little extra cold-working can fracture it.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/18/03 18:06:47 GMT


Well said, lady!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 18:44:07 GMT

I sent Jock an email with this question, then after I thought about how much work he has, I thought maybe it would be easier to get someone on the forum to answer it.

The bradley hammer I bought last september was owned by Josh Greenwood at one time. I would like to find out the history of the hammer if I can, and so would like to contact Mr. Greenwood. An internet search did not bring up any contact info for him, but I did find a few pictures of some very excellent work by him. Does anyone out there now how to get in touch with him. An email address would be great, but snail mail will work too. Thanks a lot.
   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 03/18/03 19:17:23 GMT

Kevin King - gauntlets - I just noticed last night that Lindsay Books (www.lindsaybks.com) has a book on armor making that would be attractive to me if I were interested in that sort of thing. I seem to recall that Paladin Press also has a couple good looking books on armor making. Actually making the stuff, not just museum books. Note that I'm just assuming the books are good; I'm not really into armor myself, and my book budget won't support these just for curiosity.

   Steve A - Tuesday, 03/18/03 19:17:29 GMT

If the value of a commodity can be judged by the level of fierce protection it's given. Then this website is priceless.

Everyone should join CSI -- if just for the community itself.
   Zero - Tuesday, 03/18/03 20:04:52 GMT


There is a link to Josh's web site on the links page. I looked through all of the connecting links, but couldn't find an email address. Jock may be able to put you in touch with Josh.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 20:10:26 GMT

Hillbilly it is completely inappropriate for you to throw a tantrum in public like that. Why did you not contact Jock directly with your concerns? I have done so myself once or twice and received prompt, courteous replies even before I was a CSI member.

This is a FANTASTIC site. Compared to the magazines and books that I buy, it would be worth $50/year just to be able to read this forum. Then there is the iForge library of projects. And then there is Jock!!! who makes available a great treasure of training, experience, and knowledge to anyone who cares to ask, answers that are always reasoned, always patient. One could take issue with his erm.. "unconventional" spelling but thats about it. :) Go hang around a machine shop or a blacksmith shop and ask stupid questions. How long do you think it will be before they set the dogs on you?

We will consider this a "learning experience" from now on you take your meds regularly. Ok?
   adam - Tuesday, 03/18/03 20:21:08 GMT

Chasing Pitch -
For pete's sake don't waste your time with roofing pitch if you are looking for a quality pitch for chasing and/or repousse!!!
Try Northwest Pitchworks 5705 26th ave NE Seattle WA 98105
I bought from them years ago and the quality of the pitch is excellent.
Of course if you want to patch your roof that is another matter...
   Chris - Tuesday, 03/18/03 20:52:32 GMT


Good. Cheap. Quick.

Pick TWO!
   - Tony - Tuesday, 03/18/03 20:55:23 GMT

Pitch: We have a repousse' FAQ that has several recipes thanks to VIcopper. But the professional stuff comes in many grades that are relatively uniform.

My spelling and CapItaliZation unconventional? :)
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/18/03 21:36:51 GMT


Adam was being kind! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 21:44:09 GMT


I have never posted here before but I'd like to say that you were way out of line. I discovered this site by accident and have found it to be both informative and entertaining. I have since recommended it to many other smiths and those interested in learning about blacksmithing. I am amazed at the amount of patience shown here and the willingness to share knowledge. I cannot imagine that you have spent any time seriously reading the information and advice here and still think that Jock Dempsey's motivation is profit from the anvilfire store at the expense of sharing and teaching.
Take a good look at the I-forge demo page and think agian- essentially a free tutorial. Look at the getting started area- does it not provide information on the basics? Ask a question here and you will get at least one answer and often a variety of opinions. There is no charge for any of this information.

Jock and all:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
   SteveG - Tuesday, 03/18/03 22:31:25 GMT

Stupid questions?

Adam, I'm going to (slightly) disagree with your above post.

For me, there is no such thing as a stupid question. But how the qusetion is asked, and what the person does with the information (answer) means everything. I answer a zillion qusetions in the machine shop, most go Okay and I get a "Ahhh!" or "Hmmm" as a response. Then, from time to time, I get a question asked "why the @#$% do you do it like that?" or a response to my answer of "that's stupid!". Those get shown the door -- the dogs will get 'em before they can get to the gate... ;-)

The level of respect going in means everything, which is why hillbilly was roundly chastised -- except by Jock, who was as polite and apologetic as ever.

Now since 3Dogs is in with me on the secret society, we'll need to plan the ritual of: Fisrt Forge Weld of the Vernal Equinox (bans the demons of coal smoke for the next twelve months)... ;-)
   Zero - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:11:15 GMT



You bucking for Jock's title of worst speller on the web site? (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:13:32 GMT

guru and others: Thanks immensly for the info, ya'll have been an amazing amount of help. hillyandbilly: please look closer at the previous posting and you will see that I ASKED where to find Kaewool, and it's only natural that if the store sells something and I ask where to find it that I will be told that the store sells it. this site is free to us but cannot be run for free, and the guru has been tremendously helpful to me and I'm sure to everyone else. without this site and the guru I would be lost. THANK YOU JOCK I will never the help I have and will recieve.
   Blades - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:17:17 GMT

oops I meant I will never forget the help I have and will receive.
   Blades - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:18:30 GMT

Thank you for all your responses.
I never meant to offend the readers of this forum, or anyone else for that matter. I have been smithing for just a couple of years. I heard about this website from a professional smith 3 years ago. In that time I have dealt with the public a fair bit and have had people ask me where to get information. I passed on this website to them, even though I had never visited it myself. I did not have a computer, or the money to buy one. For these last couple of years I have been eager to get a computer, get on line and access this site myself, since I had reccommended it to so many before. Well, finally after saving to buy my pc, I had, at last a chance to register and join. You can't imagine my excitement. So I registered, and waited. Feeling, since I'm no master around the keyboard, that I must have done something wrong, I registered again a week or so later, since I was informed that most applicants are processeed within 24 hours. Again I waited, no luck. So figuring I once again must not be doing something right, tried a friends computer. Well, after trying three times and waiting for two month's, I posted, on the guru page, to see if maybe I could draw attention to my problem. I was informed of how busy things had been around @ anvilfire and the guru did appologize for being late in getting these new registrations posted. I understood this, as I myself work many hours a day, 7 days a week. But, I had sincerely hoped that since this had been brought to the attention of anvilfire that maybe someone would see to catching up on registrations. Well, no one has. I know my "temper tantrum" was way out of line, and I do appologize at hurting anyone's feelings. I really am easy to get along with. I just thought as the old saying goes, "the squeaky wheel gets the grease". I was advised by someone to write the post and get attention. Well, I guess it certainly did, and in the future I will not listen to bad advice. I am overjoyed everytime I create something in the fire and it comes out nice. On the other hand, when it comes out bad, or not at all, I wonder what I should have done differently. I have had questions that I needed advice on, and thought of contacting the guru, but after hearing him tell of how thin his time was spread, I thought maybe I would get feedback through the pub, and let him deal with issues probably more important than my petty little questions. Pissing off the entire global blacksmith community was never my intention. To wrap this up, I appologize once again to all out there who took offense. I just got tired of feeling invisible.
   hilandhillbilly - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:39:15 GMT

OK I want to add my two cents to what Hilandhillbilly said. I understand his frustration I also had to wait a while to get signed up. When I e-mailed Jock and asked he did his best to get me in. Now Hilandhillbilly give this site a a while and you will get in. One other perk this site has is the input of great smiths like Frank Turley and Paw Paw two whomed have answered questions I have e-mailed them. Plus other great smiths who make up Gurus "team". This site has a lot to offer but we need to be patient and learn. I for one do not say thank you enough to these leaders of this field. Humbly I stand in need of their experience. William
   - triw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:44:11 GMT

Hilandhillbilly -

Jock is busy, but that's no reason why you shouldn't post your questions on this site, rather than the pub. If he is indead too tied up to shoot you a quick answer, I'm sure that PawPaw, Zero, 3Dogs, and just about anyone else that has "been there, fought with that" would be more than willing to answer... and the rest of us could store the information for when we ourselves face a similar struggle... (darned forge weld didn't hold... pout)
   Monica - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:55:51 GMT


Did you hit it too hard the first stroke? That's the most common mistake I think.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/18/03 23:59:14 GMT


OK, speaking for myself, I'll accept that apology, cause frustration has gotten my fanny in trouble a time or three. (grin)

That said, politeness goes a long way. Some one suggested that asking questions here was a good idea. That's what this forum is for. Questions don't get answered as fast as in a live chat, but usually within a couple of hours. This forum is almost strictly for smithing related questions. If you want a more relaxed atmosphere, the Virtual Hammerin is open. You won't get as many answers and you'll sometimes hear me or someone else say "That question really needs to be on the Guru's page." Sometimes, I'll call the Guru and ask him to answer a question on the Hammerin.

In addition to the backlog of Slack Tub Pub registrations, the darn program is also giving Jock some problems. That's contributed to the delay too.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:09:34 GMT

And sometimes, someone will say, "There's a FAQ on that, Hill."
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:11:08 GMT

Hilandhillbilly, Welcome to the group! I, too, have vented my spleen on line and lived to regret it. Live and learn. Guru, I have about 100 volumes, including a lot of ASTM specs, in my technical library and if I can help take a load off, it would be my pleasure to return something to this site. Lord knows I have taken away a fortune in free advise!
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:21:23 GMT


Welcome! We're all here to help, and learn when we cannot.

I, for one, appreciate your sincere reply.

Paw Paw: Gawd can I butcher the english language! Thanks for noticing... ;-) Mantra: PTP, PTP, PTP...
   Zero - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:28:16 GMT

Thanks for accepting my appology. those of you who became aggitated at my "brain dead,lack of forethought", unintentional attack on anvilfire possess exactly the passion of being members here as I do in wishing to become one. I also would like to personally appologize to Jock. My frustration has more than once let my "alligator mouth overload my hummingbird butt", and I truly did not mean to fire off insults. I promise this will be my last long winded response, but feel I need to explain myself before my lynching, ha! I have been a professional farrier for 16 years. Several years back I had a horse crush my left leg. After denying the surgeon to amputate, I underwent 9 reconstructive surgeries. I was told I would never walk again. Well, I set out to prove them wrong, and not only do I walk, but have been back shoeing horses for 2 years. However, since my left leg is now shorter than my right, my back stays out of whack. Bending over under horses seems to make it worse. Since I started smithing, people seem to like my work, and much to my surprise, actually buy the stuff. Whether or not I can ever make a living at the forge, I do not know. What I do know is, the more I sell, the fewer horses I have to get under. I know I can't learn all there is to know about smithing in a short time. In fact the beauty of this is you never stop learning. I'm just really eager to learn. Do not misunderstand me, I'm not in this for the money, I am truly drawn to this by passion. It's just that I am overeager I suppose to get started, or at least accelerate my learning. Once again, I meant no harm, thank you.
   hilandhillbilly - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:43:40 GMT


I extend my welcome as well! As you've no doubt learned the hard way, smiths are a loyal and passionate folk, but they're also incredibly helpful (a trait not found in most artisans, who hoard their "trade secrets" like gold). As for you're friends' advice, I'm reminded of something a very wise man (my Dad) once told me: "A squeaky wheel gets grease, a really noisy wheel gets trashed." We all get off to a bad start sometimes. No one here holds a grudge, though.

Good smithin'!
   eander4 - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:45:05 GMT

"alligator mouth overload my hummingbird butt!"

Oh, can I ever relate to that! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 00:47:19 GMT


Let's approach another problem, too. Have you looked at the possibility of a built up shoe for the short leg? Expensive, yes. But how much are you spending on your back, and would a less painful life be cheaper?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 01:14:34 GMT

Paw Paw,
Tried the built up shoe, made me move like a bull in a china store.Couldn't seem to get the hang of it. I used to be pretty quick on my feet and just need to feel more balanced than I did with one of Lurch's shoes. I'm not in terrible pain or anything, and maybe the back trouble is more from sixteen years of wrestling horses than from my busted leg, don't know. Thanks for your concern though:)
   hilandhillbilly - Wednesday, 03/19/03 01:29:14 GMT

i want to make some wood mallots that have a metal band around the face of the mallot to keep it from spliting, i beleive the band is put on hot. how do i deterimine how much a welded metal band will expand when heated so i can size them to fit the wood mallot heads.
thanks .
   bill gilkinson - Wednesday, 03/19/03 01:30:41 GMT

I'd think a farrier just needs to approach his shoe/posture problem the same way as he would a horse's. . . :)

The transition from farriery to decorative smithing is fairly common. You have the tools and if you have any interest it is a natural thing to do. Blacksmithing is like any small business in that you have to find the customers and make the sale. Location and contacts can mean the difference between failure and success. The ability to hang on is critical too.

Competition is also getting fierce in the decorative smithing world. Every day there are more smiths and all of us are now in a WORLD market. Eastern Europe is full of smiths that produce fantastic work and have tapped the Internet to make sales in the US.

This competition from both home and abroad means that not only do you need to be good but you have to be fast. In the one man shop that means automation. Power hammers, punch presses, rolling mills, lathes, twisters, vibratory finishers. . . something to think about for your business plan.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/19/03 01:40:07 GMT


Your apology was well written and obviously sincere, so I extend you my welcome along with the others. As one who is sometimes just a little tiny bit prone to shoot first and ask questions later, I could do no less. (grin)

As for the short leg, I can relate to that as well. I have a short left leg due to too many surgeries myself. Affected my back enough to wind up having back surgery, too. I finally got around to trying a built up shoe (homemade), and it did help. After a few months of wearing it, the back was all healed and I went back to matching shoes with no noticible ill effects. Got to admit, I didn't like the munsters shoe much, myself. Felt like even more of a doofus than I usually do. (grin)

If you only work on really expensive horses owned by really rich people, can you charge enough to get by on fewer horses? This question is coming from someone who hasn't ever, and never will, shod a horse. And knows less about horses than he does about brain surgery. Just a thought, since some folks always seem to think that the more they pay, the more it's worth.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/19/03 03:41:37 GMT

Hilandhillbilly, Take my class and we'll do Chi Kung mild stretch and breathing exercises in the AM. We'll keep you so busy in the forge, you won't have a chance to look up. From an old shoer and billwilliam, originally from Missouri.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/19/03 03:47:07 GMT


Jock is away from home this evening, but he'll probably answer your question first thing when he get home or first thing in the morning.

There is a formula/method for what you want to do, but I'm not sure the answer that I thought of is correct, so I'd rather Jock answered you.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 03:52:13 GMT

I have a couple of friends who are farriers. I've watched them work on horses a couple of times.

There isn't enough money go get me to do that! Horses are for riding, or in an emergency, eating. But I am NOT going to hold them up!
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 03:53:55 GMT

Bands: Bill, Heat shrunk bands need large diameters to work by shrink fit. Steel expands 7 millionths of an inch per degree per inch. For shrink fits on wood you can not use over 325°F or you char the wood too much. So the maximum expansion you can get on a 3" diameter is:

(325° - 70°) * .000007" * 3" = .0054"

Note that PI (for the circumference) cancels out. The minus 70°F is for room temperature so you only get 255° for expansion. Five thousandths is not much of a shrink fit on a soft material like wood. You need a tight press fit of about the same amount on very dry wood, THEN the shrink fit. Oven dried wood will give you another couple thousandths IF the fit is based on the heat dried size (total about 1/64"). Normal moisture or oiling will help re-expand the wood.

Picky but it can be done.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/19/03 05:42:05 GMT

Re: Farrier back problems...

For help with your posture while shoeing horses you may want to look at this web page (if you haven't already):

   Howard - Wednesday, 03/19/03 05:46:06 GMT

Hilandhillbilly; Okay, 3dogs is unpissed too. I don't bite hard enough to draw blood too often. If I don't have an answer to a problem, I have some real good search engines, and personal contacts in a number of trades available to me. When we hold a lynchin' here, we mos' generally use bungee cord.(Grin) Welcome aboard. 3dogs
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/19/03 08:45:25 GMT

Metal bands on wood mallets: Bill, I've not been able to make that work successfully. Even with drying the head out first. The problem I've had is that even if you get the band tight, when you use the mallet, the band is forced off when the mallet head stops on what you are hitting. Nails through the band into the wood have not helped. Looks bad, but good hose clamps do work in a groove.

Bands do work on a tapered head. The striking end larger than the other. Head band must go on before the handle. A second band on the other side of the handle helps to keep the head from splitting.

Wrapped wet rawhide strip acting as the band can work too.

Or is this just an ornamental mallet?
   - Tony - Wednesday, 03/19/03 12:54:58 GMT

On hitting chisels---I remember picking up the hammer and doing some chiselling once never looking at the top of the chisel until I noticed that folks were looking at me funny *then* I looked up and found that I had been driving the chisel with the crosspeen face instead of the flat face---with time your body *learns* where everything's at and it becomes almost automatic.

Armour: check out the armour archive forum and arador forum both dedicated to making armour (when doing web searches use the british spelling "armour" as most of the makes seem to use it)

Thomas---Patrick I checked up on your hammer and found it was supposed to be painted light blue...

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/19/03 13:43:08 GMT

I belong to an antique tractor, gas engine, Steam, Horse club call "Rae Valley Heritage Assn" Look for our home page "raevalley.org". Anyway we aquired a forge from some relatives and were going to place it in our blacksmith shop at the show site. We have a working blacksmith shop during our show and it is small but equiped with quite a little equipment. There is already a forge in it but this one is different and we want to just show it or use it, anyway preserve it. I have old engine/light plant interests myself but I want to help in getting this forge restored to working condition. My question is should we just put it together and repair afew things or should we sand blast it and make it look like new. We dug it out of the trees and it is good shape complete with a crank blower that turns. There is a hood that is about rusted away but we got it for a pattern. I would email pictures of it to someone so they could help us to identify it and get some info on who made it and when etc. Thanks, Steve
   Steve of Rae Valley - Wednesday, 03/19/03 13:59:12 GMT


If this is a "using" rather than a "looking" mallet, I use a couple of large hose clamps from the auto supply store. I tighten them down every day or so while the wood cures, and then every time I use it therafter.

Master of the Blunt Heavy Object School of Blacksmithing

Warm and partly sunny on the banks of the Potomac. Still oiling ironwork from the deluge at Jamestown on Sunday. More rain on the way, but everything is in the forge, barn or house now.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/19/03 14:09:28 GMT

Oops, Tony beat me to the hose clamp trick. (Ah well, as long as he doesn't beat me with the hoses!)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/19/03 14:21:17 GMT

Jock, that link about farrier body positioning should be on the links page.

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 14:56:15 GMT

Bands on wood tools: I have both ferrules and bands on some wood working gouges I made. The bands were made from 1-1/2" pipe. They keep the end of the handle from splitting but they rise up from inertia under use but mine were not very tight. When the wood mushrooms over the band they stay put. I suspect the mushrooming is as important as tightness.

One of our members here made some chisels to sell on the auction page. The handles did not have ferrules, they were wire wrapped. Looked like a good method but takes some practice to get the ends of the wire tucked in while keeping the wire tight. It may not work on a struck tool BUT it could be applied in a groove.

Many years ago we had large heavy screw drivers with bands on the end of handle. The maker knew the tools were going to be missused by pounding on them. . . The bands were very light weight so inertia was not an issue and they had small roundhead nails holding them on. Originaly the top edge of the band was roll crimped into the wood. On thin metal this can be done like spinning and results in a piece that cannot come off.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/19/03 15:50:56 GMT

Bands: one more thing. Truck exhaust tubing makes OK bands. Stainless steel seamless sanitary tubing is even better, but has even less thermal expansion if you want to try the heat shrink thing.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 03/19/03 16:04:40 GMT

OOps! some 400 series stainless have less thermal expansion than carbon steel, but some 300 series have MORE thermal expansion than carbon steel.

Bruce, no hose whipping. grin.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 03/19/03 16:28:21 GMT


Got one for you and Quenchcrack to argue over.

Last year I had a customer order some paper weights to give to his groomsmen. I suggested 2" diameter by 1" thick, 304L Stainless Steel.

Wanted to "colorize" it to give it a different finish. Put a piece in the Whisper Mamma, turned it on and walked away. Forgot about it. When I went back (couple of hours) it didn't look like stainless steel at all. It looked like a big cinder. After it cooled off, a layer chipped off from all surfaces, leaving a granular appearing, black surface. Just for grins and giggles, I polished one side on the sander while I did another piece in the forge, under more controlled circumstances. Then I polished the second piece on the sander. Had them both engraved and sent them to the customer for approval and choice. The "burned" one, when polished, looked like polished antrhacite or Hematite. And it was HARD. The customer chose the "burned" one.

Now the question:

What boiled or burned out of the stainless steel to give it the wierd finish. Samples available on request.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 16:58:36 GMT

Paw Paw, I know Quench is waiting in the weeds to correct me and that's OK. My guess is chrome carbides.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:07:27 GMT

Bands: On Japanese chisels the inside of the band has a round profile and the butt of the handle has a taper. Before using a chisel for the first time, one is supposed to moisten the end grain of the butt and then peen it out to mushroom over the band. Japanese workers also use iron hammers to drive their chisels.
   adam - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:13:30 GMT


If that is true, is the material still stainless? (point of information, there are several pieces sitting in my shop. the shop is a fairly humid environment and there is now sign of rust.)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:17:42 GMT

now = no
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:22:28 GMT

Paw Paw, IF it's chrome carbides, the parts will be "less" corrosion resistant for "many" environments. Some of the black surface may be iron oxide too.

c'mon Quenchcrack.... don't leave me in suspense. My caffiene level is too high for that. Grin.
   - Tony - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:32:12 GMT

Paw Paw,

I hit hard, I hit medium, I barely tapped, I went to a smaller hammer for lighter blows (not that my main is big, only 800)... Had the piece to a yellow-white with just the beginning of sparks here and there. Heck, caught one of the pieces on fire!
   Monica - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:44:28 GMT

Paw Paw,

I forge a few things out of 304 stainless, like forks, shoehorns, drive hooks etc. Down here in Paradise, the stuff rusts very quickly if not passivated. I've about half way worked out a simple method of passivation that seems to work very well. Once passivated, the stuff no longer rusts, even the scrub brush holder on the kitchen sink.

To passivate the stainless, I suspend it in a bath of 1 part Ospho to 2 parts water, in a stainless steel stockpot.The forged piece is hooked up to the negative pole of the little 12v battery charger and the positive pole is hooked to the stockpot. About 15-30 minutes of "cooking" and the piece is clean, scale-free and passivated. The key thing is to see bubbles rising from the forged piece when the current is on. If the bubbles are coming from the stockpot, you need to reverse the poles. When it's done, rinse and neutralize with some bakjing soda and water.

The usual cautions apply: Ospho is a phosphoric acid solution and potentially injurious to skin, eyes and lungs. Don't drink it, either. Don't let the workpiece touch the stockpot and short out. Don't drop the battery charger on your foot. Don't take candy from strangers.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/19/03 17:44:41 GMT

Bands on tools:

If you soaked the wood beforehand to reduce charing could you apply the bands hotter and get more expansion?

I'm thinking very wet wood, drop the band on and quench right away. Would this work?


   Jim - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:02:16 GMT

By the books, I've got the techniques right for the weld... including scarfing the edge. I'm using mild steel, so it shouldn't be too hard to weld. I will try again (and again and again) tonight.

On of the guys at work, an experienced smith with odd shortcuts, suggested I get some Oxy-Acetaline rods, get the pieces hot to the point that the rod melts, and use them... well, pretty much like I was sodering. Any opinions on this?

For someone who alledgidly has 17 years of experience, I've had to toss some of his odder suggestions, and just knew better on some of the things that he swore wouldn't work. (I've done them, and with as little experience as I have...)
   Monica - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:07:37 GMT


> Had the piece to a yellow-white with just the beginning of sparks here and there. Heck, caught one of the pieces on fire!

That may have been the problem.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:08:20 GMT

Forge Restoration Steve, The first worst enemy of old forges is rust. Normal rust and corrosion from coal ash. It won't hurt to sand blast the forge but the blower needs to be hand cleaned. These old devices do not have very good seals or no seals at all and sandblasting is likely to get sand where is is not supposed to go clean and paint by hand. Of course the advice on collectable "antiques" is to do nothing that disturbs the original finish. . . However, many of these devices have been cleaned and repained numerous times and those that have not are often in danger of rusting to dust.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:13:51 GMT

Paw Paw

I backed the heat off, after the sparkler... Had the pieces to the yellow-white color of the fire, as I've been told... With the welding glasses on, the surface was starting to swim, but no sparkles. I'll be back at it tonight. In two weeks we have a nother FABA meeting, and I may have to throw myself at the mercy of the experienced folks and see if they can correct me. Easier to do if you can See what I'm doing, rather than trust to the variencies inherent to typed language.

Example, just what is the color of the hot part of the fire? Some call it white, some yellow. I just know it was the same color as when I've seen folks successfully weld.
   Monica - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:14:28 GMT

Then again, my right eye sees everything with a blue/yellow (but not green, strangly enough) overtone. My left eye sees everything with a rose hue. Color descriptions are hard. Ummm, yellow colored.... sure from which eye?
   Monica - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:17:24 GMT

Bands: Jim, if you soak the wood it will swell, perhaps more than the band will shrink.

Welding: Monica here are some tips that helped me, mebbe you've tried them mebbe not.

The thicker the stock the easier. Thin stuff chills very fast. I cant weld 1/4" by bringing it to the anvil. I have to squeeze the pcs together in the fire with tongs and then bring it out to finish. For starters, try at least 3/8". 1/2" is easy IMO. I think you will find gas welding rod very very difficult to do a drop the tongs weld.

Make sure your scarfs fit each other fairly well.

Touch the pcs to each other in the fire - if they dont stick then either they arent hot enough or your fire is bad.

Soak at welding heat so that the pc is heated all the way through. This helps a lot!

Keep the weld area off the anvil till the very last second. The anvil chills the work fast. brace them over the edge of the anvil at an angle so that the weld is up in the air.

First tap about hard enough to shell a peanut w/o crushing the nut. Frank Turley seems to hit at an angle to drive the scarf faces together. I try to do the same.

As soon as they are glued together reflux and take another welding heat (unless they are big pcs that hold the heat for a long time)

Usually, when the weld is going to be successful you will feel the pieces stick when you bring them together on the anvil.

From the things you have said I am guessing that your main problem here is using too thin a stock
   adam - Wednesday, 03/19/03 18:37:10 GMT

Bands on chisel handles: I own one set of wood chisels that came with the bands loose and the handles round on the striking end. There was a note in the box saying that I should put the bands on the handles, soak the ends in water, and peen over the bands. Worked great and still works great after 5-6 years. I've seen the procedure other places, too. I don't often drive carving tools with a mallet, so few of mine have bands; many are palm tools. On turning tools, I've made very satisfactory ferrules out of copper plumbing caps.

Resolution: This weekend I will forge. I will not clean gutters, I will not wield a paint brush, I will not take work home. I will be making steel very hot, placing it on an anvil, and hitting it with a hammer. I will be making hinges on Saturday, and whatever is the project of the month at the forge meeting on Sunday. It will be a very good weekend.


   Steve A - Wednesday, 03/19/03 19:02:46 GMT

03-19-03 1:58 EST

I have forgotten how to lay out a sheet metal cone, and am not having any succes looking on the web for pattern formulas. Can you help me with this, or at least stear me in the right direction? I'm in the middle of a bid and looking to nest a sheet. So I need this information ASAP.
Hinmaton Hisler
   Hinmaton Hisler - Wednesday, 03/19/03 19:14:37 GMT

03-19-03 1:58 EST

I have forgotten how to lay out a sheet metal cone, and am not having any succes looking on the web for pattern formulas. Can you help me with this, or at least stear me in the right direction? I'm in the middle of a bid and looking to nest a sheet. So I need this information ASAP.
Hinmaton Hisler
   Hinmaton Hisler - Wednesday, 03/19/03 19:15:26 GMT

cones: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/index.htm click on "Cones" under "Math" about halfway down
   adam - Wednesday, 03/19/03 19:29:04 GMT

"...Don't drink Phosphoric Acid"

Dangit Rich (Vic)! Now I have to give up Diet Coke!!

I have used Coca Cola to anodize titanium (it's the phosphoric acid). Great Mr. Wizard trick to impress your friends... ;-)
   Zero - Wednesday, 03/19/03 19:43:58 GMT

Two questions, one practical (if a little repetitive), and one speculative.

A new iteration on Davidís earlier question: I have recently bought a couple of Chinese locks whose inner workings are identical with the Viking style barrel locks. I plan to file off the Eastern style decorations on the casings and use them for some of my early medieval chests. The key to the larger lock has some cast bas relief decorative elements on what would be the bow. If I bring this to a low red can I forge them flat, or am I better off annealing hammering and re-annealing with an active fire? One never knows the quality of the brass, and I donít want this crumbling under the hammer. (One key and thatís it.)

Iíve read of folks using hydraulic presses for welding billets of pattern welded steel together, and Iíve seen Brad Silberberg work with his 50 ton press and some of the fly presses. Iíve also noted that when forge welding you donít have to smack the ever-living aspirations out of the billet to make the weld ďtakeĒ. So Iím sitting there the other night looking at my Columbian 100# post vise (dated 1917, WW-I surplus?) and contemplating just how much pressure can be applied to a 1Ē billet without a handle extension or overdoing it to such an extent that it would damage the vise. It would seem to me that I can throw a lot of pressure on something at least as fast as a hydraulic press.

So I guess this is really two sub-questions:

1) Anybody ever tried it? It seems to me that this should work very well, but itís so simple, somebody must have tried it before and there might be problems with it.

2) Just how much pressure can you generate with a hulking big vise? Someone with a mathematical background, like the Great Guru, can probably handle that.

Visit your National Parks (Working on Weir Farm National Historic Site this week.): www.nps.gov/wefa

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/19/03 19:57:42 GMT

monica, for welding...
Since we all percieve colors differently use this trick.
The steel(with flux) should look like a pat of butter looks undera broiler just as it starts to melt. It will have the same look and swirly pattern to it. To me that is welding temp for steel.
BTW I find that mild is absolutely the most difficult to weld. Wrought is easy and higher carbon steels seem to be easy. But plain jane mild is a Royal PITA
   Ralph - Wednesday, 03/19/03 20:20:04 GMT

Jock, if something's got to fall out to free up your time, I recommend cutting the pub (it sounds like it's your most time consuming task). I stop through there every so often and the discussions most often are about the weather or politics and not smithing.
My opinion on anvilfire criticism (suggestions) is, only CSI members have the right. If you're not a CSI member, be happy with what's available. Maybe you should make more of the site members only. There are probably so many folks hooked, that membership would increase. Many don't see the benefit of paying for something they can get for free.
I REALLY am appreciative of all that you and the gurus do here (especially iforge). Keep it up! I'll be a CSI for as long as it's available.
   robcostello - Wednesday, 03/19/03 20:34:34 GMT

The material is 304L, the L indicating that it is low carbon (<.04% C) so there is just not enough carbon to form any significant Chromium Carbides. However, Chromium Oxides are black when formed at high temperature and that would be my guess. And just to be a real pain in yer patoot, chrome is what they used to put on bumpers. It is made from chromium. I know, I know.....typical prima donna metallurgist......
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/19/03 20:46:12 GMT

Vise Welding Press: Bruce, It would probably work. You don't need a lot of force to make the weld. The forging presses have the power for drawing out the billet.

The problem will be the width of the vise jaws. These are usualy only about 3/4" on that size vise. That will limit the width of the billet. Then there is the matter of getting the piece in and aligned and the vise tightened. . . but that is just practice and juggling.

On hot bar stock a vise will mash it so there is enough force for welding.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/19/03 20:51:24 GMT

Welding rods to forge weld: Monica, The guy was either pulling your leg or full of BS. .

As Ralph pointed out mild steel is actually one of the worst to weld. Wrought and pure iron can be heated hotter and high carbon steel melts at a lower temperature. Mild doesn't have enough carbon to lower the melting temperature appreciably AND it cannot take as high a temperature as wrought.

Small pieces must be welded colse to the fire and you want to move quickly but NOT wave or fan the pieces around cooling them. You want a clean straight movement from forge to anvil. Touching and sticking the pieces together in the forge is also a good idea. Once joined the parts have more mass and cool slower.

If you are welding pieces that are two different sizes you need to be sure to start heating the heavier piece first so they both reach welding temperature at the same time. This is one of those things you guess at and then learn from experiance.

In our iForge welding demo there is a little tool for adding flux to the work in the forge that can also be used to test the metal. When the point of your test bar sticks to the piece then it is ready. You can use this "feeler" method rather than staring into the fire.

Forge welding is an art that once you catch on seems easy but until you do it a few times can be quite frustrating.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/19/03 21:07:37 GMT

Bruce: I have actually tried this but I wasnt fast enough to get things into position and once the vise closed it sucked all the heat out.

I have daydreamed about a little foot operated welding clamp. Sort of like a guillotine tool but with a foot lever to close it. Jaws would be about 1" wide maybe made of stainless to reduce conduction losses. Use two hands to place the parts in the "welder" and bear down with a foot.
   adam - Wednesday, 03/19/03 21:30:47 GMT

M, are you possibly welding cold rolled or P&O steel?

I've never had anyluck welding that without grinding the surface to remove whatever it is that they do that makes it so much a pain to weld!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/19/03 21:56:32 GMT

Dang it, I didn't see the L in 304L in Paw Paws post. Quenchcrack wins again!

I'm blaming it on the caffeine. grumble grumble...
   - Tony - Wednesday, 03/19/03 22:19:59 GMT

Jock, as a new member of CSI I don't have the experience to contribute much to this site, but I sure as heck read a lot and ask questions and the amount of help available here is absolutely wonderful, and unmatched anywhere else I am aware of. I second Rob's comments above, if you need more time, cut the pub, while fun it is not nearly as valuable as everyplace else on this site. Rob also has a point about making more of the features available for paying members only ....iforge comes to mind, perhaps elsewhere. Human nature is to enjoy the freebies and shirk the responsibilities which only deprives you of the income you need to keep things going....without keeling over from fatigue in the process. Thanks for ALL of your fine work!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 03/19/03 22:40:51 GMT

Welding part two.....
Practise the movements with cold iron before you do it hot.... This will allow you to have everything placed just so so that you can get the first weld. Actually you should know EXACTLY what you are to do ANY time you go to remove a hot piece of iron..... just makes it more important in welding. Once you get the first weld I would recommend that you do at least one weld everytime you work at a forge.... eventually you will be able to do welds while defying or ignoring all teh 'tribal knowledge' about forge welds..... But by that time you will actually understand what it is you are doing and a lot of the mumble-jumble that is spoke about welding will be understood etc...
   Ralph - Wednesday, 03/19/03 22:51:36 GMT

who said you have to be a long time menber to contriibute? (grin)
All it takes is just knowing an answer.... In fact it is really cool when you have just learned or researched an answer and someone asks... then you can actually look like you know something... I mean reallyif you need proof just look over in the corner there at that decrepid old coot who goes by the name of PawPaw... (VBG)

think I will seek shelter now...
   Ralph - Wednesday, 03/19/03 22:53:57 GMT

Better dig a DEEP foxhole, Ralph! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/19/03 23:28:19 GMT

VIcopper- what's ospho, does it go by a brand name? where do you get it?
Monica- are you working with a deep, fresh firewith no clinkers and putting the steel in the middle, out of the oxidizing zone?
   mike-hr - Thursday, 03/20/03 00:10:55 GMT

Vicopper thanks for the info will try 10% @ 100f and report back on results.... finally got a use for that stuff.... its really true if you hold on to something long enough it becomes useful again or comes back into fashion .... hmmm maybe I'll have to dig out that neru jacket
   Mark P - Thursday, 03/20/03 00:17:49 GMT

Mike, If I remember correctly ospho is a "nic" name for phosporic acid. Most cola drinks contain a good bit of it.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/20/03 01:44:57 GMT


If I remember correctly (a rare occasion). Ospho is a brand akin to Naval Jelly (Phosphoric acid).

You can also get phosphoric acid at a pool supply store -- at least you could a few years ago, it's been awhile for me.

Same disclaimer as Rich (Vic), except for the soda-pop... ;-)
   Zero - Thursday, 03/20/03 02:10:16 GMT

The acid in soft drinks is carbonic acid. (CO2 + H2O)
   - guru - Thursday, 03/20/03 02:47:26 GMT

I do so hate to contradict the Resident Guru, but I have a can of Cherry Coke here that says he's wrong... (grin)
   T. Gold - Thursday, 03/20/03 05:52:31 GMT

Thought I'd add my 2 cents worth. Got registered for the Pub today. First I'd like to say thanks. Have had a lot of questions answered here, most of I havn't even had to ask. Most all questions are already answered if you look around here enough. Most always interesting and usefull information here. A lot of the personal touch. Unusual these days. Kind of the difference between dealing with a new guy at auto zone and a friendly experienced salesman at the old times part store. Parts probably higher but you leave knowing more. And here it's free. Since frequenting this site i have tried and been mostly successful working with metal in new ways. Stuff I used to want to do and am now doing. Learning how and what mistakes to avoid. I really don't want to sound sappy but sincerely, THANKS, I APPRECIATE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
   cktate - Thursday, 03/20/03 06:33:31 GMT


Ospho is a tradename for a brand of metal prep solution. It contains primarily phosphoric acid and some glycol esters, which act as wetting agents and to slow evaporation. It is sold primarily for the prevention and removal of rust on steel. The phosphoric acid acts as a reducing agent to convert the rust, (ferric oxide) to a different, (less active), compound. Ospho is manufactured by the Skybryte Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It also contains dichromate, by the way. Most commercial paint supply, hardware and marine stores sell it. It costs about $15.00 per gallon.

The reason for using Ospho is that it contains all the ingredients of many of the solutions used by commercial electropolishers for the purpose of electropolishing and passivating stainless steel. Nearly all of those formulas are proprietary (secret), but Ospho is available and seems to work. I am still doing some experimenting with a couple of additions to the mix that may improve it some. If that comes to fruition I will let everyone know.

All carbonated drinks contain carbonic acid, which is formed by dissolving carbon dioxide in water, as Jock pointed out. Coca-Cola does contain small amounts of phosphoric acid as well. (P2O5) The carbonic acid is what makes Coke "dissolve" tooth enamel and nails,etc. The amount of phosphoric acid in it is so minute as to be inconsequential.

   vicopper - Thursday, 03/20/03 06:58:36 GMT

Monica, 17 years experience at doing WHAT? That guy's blowing more smoke than 3 ton of free coal. Tell him to quit peein' on yer boot and telling you it's raining. Better yet, send him over here and we'll take turns 'puter whippin' him. Sounds like the Shipfitter who sent his apprentice after 5 gallons of sailboat fuel. Humph! 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/20/03 08:41:01 GMT

Explain how surface hardening is achived through carburization?
   najib - Thursday, 03/20/03 10:05:06 GMT

compare other type of surface hardening process to carburization. list some of the advantages and disadvantages?
   jojo - Thursday, 03/20/03 10:08:40 GMT

describe the process and steps in polishing of material in the laboratory.
   jojo - Thursday, 03/20/03 10:09:56 GMT


I used to use it to prepare auto body metal for painting. The treated body metal wouldn't rust even when the paint got scraped off. Good stuff! Wear gloves, it stings.

I've been having trouble finding it here in NH. I have some outdoor projects I'd like to use it on.

BTW the phosporic acid in coke does have something to do with it dissolving meat. In junior high school we did the classic experiment with putting a piece of stew beef in water, coke and soda water. The coke did the most damage by a long shot.

IMHO: The coke eating up your tooth enamel may have more to do with the 2 table spoons of suger that is in a 12 oz can than the acids.
   Stephen G - Thursday, 03/20/03 13:01:35 GMT

Jojo/najib: those questions sound suspiciously like a homework assignment. Did mine, got credit, graduated. You do the same. Try the Library and look for a set of ASM Handbooks, all the answers are in there.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 03/20/03 13:20:26 GMT

Chinese Brass Key Question:

So after reading the replies to David, it still seems to me that the jury is still out-

Work cold, anneal often (like each time)?

Work hot at low red, and pray?

Cut off the d@mn fancy brass bow off and rivet/solder something Viking to it?

Rainy and damp on the banks of the Potomac; welcome to wartime Washington. I guess the Pres. was waiting until we got the tobacco farmer out of the NPS pond, so as to allow us one crises at a time. (Sad grin, but still a grin; you'd be amazed the number of commuters who just wanted us to shoot the guy! I guess folks are a tad tetchy here.)

Visit your National Parks (Includes the new tractor-washing station at Constitution Gardens): http://www.nps.gov/nama/home.htm

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/20/03 14:29:10 GMT

Homework Najib and jojo are in fact the same person and as QC (a metalurgist that knows the answers) pointed out we don't do homework FOR you. We DO provide answers for certain cultural/blacksmithing questions that are not commonly available in references found in school and public libraries.

Since these are engineering school questions we can make finding the information quite easy. Try the following references:

MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK by Industrial Press. I recommend ALL prospective engineers, machinists, blacksmiths and bladesmiths have a copy (or two) of this invaluable reference. It has articles covering the above questions as well as thousands of others applicable to the metalworking field. It is common for metals students to have to take a course on MACHINERY'S for which they are required to purchase a copy. Most immediately discard the book (to their shame), thus good recent copies are available used at 1/4 the original price.

Metalurgical Laboratory Methods published by ASM (American Society for Metals International). My copy is ancient so the current title may be slightly different and it would do no good for me to list author or book number.

ASM Publishes the encylopedic ASM Metals Handbook which will answer almost all metalurgical questions and is a standard reference in all engineering school libraries as well as private and industrial reference libraries.

Then there is ASM's Heat Treaters Guide, Standard Parctice and Procedures for Steel if you need specific treatment for any standard steel. ASM's Metal Reference Book covers both ferrous and non-ferrous metals but is not an in-depth reference. However, I refer to it more than any other because it generally has enough information to answer most questions. There are dozens of others.

And not to leave out other publishers, McGraw-Hill (or whoever they are now) has published thousands of engineering references many of which are used as text books.

Anyone who is serious about a carrier in the metals fields should have the above books in their personal library. The exception is the encylopedic ASM Metals Handbook which is rather expensive. However, you CAN and should purchase individual volumes covering your specialty.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/20/03 15:00:29 GMT

The belt on my 25-lb. Little Giant is getting more than frayed. It's starting to rip across. I need to fix it and am baffled. The existing belt has big staples fastening it together. If there's a way to get a replacement belt that staples like that, I wouldn't have to take apart the whole top of the Little Giant - which I really really don't want to do. It's not a big problem to loosen the motor mount to give leeway to tighten the belt once it's on (although I'd have to work through some layers of paint to loosen the bolts.) That would be much better than taking apart the whole thing.

Any suggestions on how to find this kind of belt, and how to get hold of the tool and staples to secure it to the right length?

Catherine Jo Morgan
Morgan Sculpture
Iron and mixed media vessels
artist diary: http://radio.weblogs.com/0120691/
   Cathy Morgan - Thursday, 03/20/03 15:03:50 GMT

Chinese Key Bruce, sorry, I missed your question in the confusion. Cast brass is forgable sometimes, but needs to be cast with some pressure (forced, gravity, centrifugal) and depends as you noted on the quality of the alloy.

Without seeing the key. . I would try heating to a low red in low light using a torch) and flattening. If it crumbles then you will need to replace the bow. If you have oxy-acetylene it is not too difficult to braze on a new bow OR to melt the pieces back together with a little added brazing rod.

Is is thick enough to file off the unwanted markings? Make it flat and thin then solder plates on both sides? I don't recommend soldering the entire bow on because this is a high stress point on keys and solder will not generaly hold up to the strain.

Paw-Paw will have the oxy-acetylene in his trailer . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/20/03 15:23:42 GMT

Drive Belts: McMaster Carr has these - www.mcmastercarr.com for online acces to their catalog. In my printed catalog they are labeled "flat leather belts" and "transmission belt lacing".

I have very little experience with leather belt drives so they may not be the right parts - just that I have noticed these parts in the catalog
   adam - Thursday, 03/20/03 15:57:19 GMT

Little Giant Belt: Cathy, You should probably let your fingers do the walking. . look in the yellow pages under "power transmission" or "belting, industrial". Although this type of belting is becoming rare in industry there is still enough of it that the industrial suppliers have the belt, laces (those clips) and the tools to install them.

Information you need for the supplier is belt length, width, thickness (in inches or plies) and material. The material is not really critical. Leather, cloth and rubber all work. Usually you want to order a belt about 1-2% shorter than the old one to allow for stretch. OR move the motor to the closest position to the opposite pulley then measure the distance around the two pulleys and order a belt exactly that length. Motor adjustment should allow for tensioning and stretch.

The laces, if they are wire loops that interlock with a pin then they are "Clipper" brand lacings. These are installed in leather, cotton and cloth/rubber belts using a special tool made by the company. There are two types, bench or vise mounted and a large floor model. I have a large floor model and it is almost a neccessity in a shop running lots of flat belt drive machines.

The pins holding the ends of the belt together are made of either compressed rawhide or the new teflon coated steel pins. Often you see a piece of brazing rod being used. Plain steel pins can cause lacing wear and are best avoided but are also common. I prefer the compressed rawhide but I do not know if they are still available.

Clipper laces are the best and should be asked for by name.

There are other brands of laces made of flat plates such as "Aligator" brand laces which do not require a special machine to install. But they are not as strong or flexible as the Clipper brand.

Before all these "patent" laces came into use leather belts were skived (tapered) and glued together. On machines where and endless belt could not be installed or was difficult to install the belts were in fact "laced" just like shoe laces. Holes were punched in the end of the belt and leather thongs wer used to hold the ends together. You will find lacing instructions in older books on machine shop work and in MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/20/03 15:59:28 GMT

oops! that should be www.mcmaster.com.

if you can get them to send you a catalog, please tell me how you did it :)
   adam - Thursday, 03/20/03 15:59:44 GMT

More on Flat Belts: If you cannot find a supplier in your area try McMaster-Carr (on-line see our links page). I think they still make up belts with lacing to length.

OR contact me. There are numerous places nearby that make up belts and I also have the tools and Clipper laces to make up belts.

McMaster-Catalog Yep, these are solid gold and hard to get. Even old ones are valuable (NO you can't have MINE!). Step ONE is to open an account with them and then ASK for a catalog. Step two is to continue doing business with them. However, WHO continues to get there catalog is kind of a mystery. A friend of mine continualy gets them but never orders from them. . while I advertise them AND have an account and have to ask to get a new catalog. . . I guess I just don't LOOK like a big enough fish. .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/20/03 16:09:26 GMT

Welding Billets
I know of a few knife makers that use there post vices to set the welds so it can be done and they seem to have good luck with it. you don't need much to set the welds all the real work is in drawing out the billets.
and the good guru beat me to the post... again (grin)
on that brass key why not make a new key with a bow that "fit's in" also there is now worrying about now haveign a key if you make one.
I think that McMaster-Carr still carrys that kind of belt. I know that they carry the flat leather belt that are stapled .. save the old staples as I don't know if you can still get those and they can be a pain to make.
   MP - Thursday, 03/20/03 16:09:51 GMT

Adam;Catalog from McMaster-Carr? Piece of cake! Allyagottadoo, (now, there's a word that'll send chills down the spine of any tradesman) is get yerself a big fancy commercial-sounding name like "Adam's Industrial Forging and Aluminum Stormdoor Co., INC., get listed with Dun and Bradstreet (They'll want to know yer Momma's maiden name), assure them that you'll be sending them at least 3 lbs of hundred dollar bills per year, and you'll be amazed at how fast a catalog arrives at your very doorstep. (SMIRK) Good luck. 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/20/03 16:27:08 GMT

gordonforge@aol.com your pub registration mail bounced.

macsejs1992@yahoo.com your pub registration mail bounced.

About 10% of our pub registrations bounce and this is one reason we handle them manually. Folks often mistype their email addresses OR they use phoney addresses to register for forums. A surprising number do. In order to keep folks that want to hide behind phoney addresses from using our chat we delay registrations to prevent them from logging in immediately.

The bounces also cause MORE work because they must be manually edited out of the user list. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/20/03 17:00:32 GMT

I usually use heavy duty spring leaf to make tools. But at the time of order hardening&tempering I do not know the exact type of steel that I am dealing with. ŅIs there any practical way to know if a spring leaf is a plain carbon or a SAE 5160?
   Bernardo Navarro - Thursday, 03/20/03 17:11:40 GMT

Hiya, Bruce; How complex is this honorable Chinese key? And how labor intensive would it be to carve, file, or cast (sand,lost wax, cuttlebone), a new one, relative to trying to repair the old one. Apparently, the lock is not a really old and valuable piece, or we wouldn't be modifying it, would we? Also, if it's a fairly recent brass casting, say, post WW II, Lord only knows what kind of dreck went into the brass. Meinself, I'd make a new key, and put the image of the Scandanavian of my choice on it, say, Anita Ekberg. But, that's just MY seldomhumble opinion. (BOG) 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/20/03 17:22:55 GMT

Bernardo: Try a spark test and compare to known samples. Is there much plain carbon leaf ?

3dogs: Thats my take on it too. I dont have much hope being as there weren't a lot of maidens in my family :). I have tried using my position in my day job (engineer in a large company - sounds good huh?). I have tried lying about the size of my blacksmith business (15 employees - NOT!) I have tried pleading, groveling and temper tantrums. So far all I got is an old copy which I stole from a colleague's office.
   adam - Thursday, 03/20/03 17:38:47 GMT

MP, Ya beat me to the key. No fair typing with both hands! 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/20/03 17:42:40 GMT

Adam, Yes, of course, theft is always a viable alternative. I get kinda weepy when I think of all those catalogs I've seen hit the Dumpster. Sniff. 3dogs
   3dogs - Thursday, 03/20/03 17:47:41 GMT

Spark testing leaf springs: I would think that you could see the nearly 1% chromium in 5160 in a spark stream. Carbon steel, even with the same carbon content as 5160 (.60%) sparks differently. Try going to www.iforgeiron.com and looking at the section on spark testing.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 03/20/03 18:08:10 GMT

I recently saw (on ebay) someone had some titanium for sale. They claimed it had excelent forging capabilities. What would you use it for? Does it make a good blade? I admit I know nothing about titanium, but have always heard it is tough yet light.Thought maybe I'd play with some sometime, but since it isn't cheap, figured maybe before I ruined it I should find out more about it first
   hilandhillbilly - Thursday, 03/20/03 20:21:37 GMT

Hil re: TI
for blades not really. It could make some light weight tongs. you could make some forged jewelry
   Ralph - Thursday, 03/20/03 20:28:44 GMT

frank turley, tell me what is chi kung?
   hilandhillbilly - Thursday, 03/20/03 20:29:50 GMT

will it not hold an edge? I think it is really light. Someone told me that it is actually an alloy containing aluminum. True or false? and how does it work in the fire?
   hilandhillbilly - Thursday, 03/20/03 20:33:00 GMT

and while I'm picking you brains, are there different grades or hardnesses of titanium as with carbon and stainless steels?
   hilandhillbilly - Thursday, 03/20/03 20:38:23 GMT

I thought Titanium burned. Do you really want to stick a combustable metal in a hot forge?
   Stephen G - Thursday, 03/20/03 20:46:22 GMT

Stephen G *steel* burns yet many folk here put "combustible metal in a hot forge" on a regular basis.

I have forged Ti in charcoal, coal and gas forges and never had any burn up---guess it wouldn't be very good for high speed planes if it was real sensitive to ignition...

VP Ti is too soft for a blade as it does not harden. I have not worked with the Al and vanadium alloys.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/20/03 21:25:37 GMT

Shoot that was susposed to be CP not VP.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/20/03 21:26:32 GMT


Pure Ti melts at 3300 degrees F. Grade 2, commercially pure is pretty easy to work (machine, forge, etc). Then you get to the alloys (just like steel) such as 6AL-4V which become harder to work with.

I've taken skin from crash sites of SR-71/A-12 Blackbirds and brought them to white heat, beat the c**p out of them, only to have them return to their bent and twisted shape. It's quite amazing.

True, Ti will burn (I've caught plenty of chips on fire myself). But it's still pretty easy to handle as getting a large mass up to kindling temperature is difficult.

Ti wouldn't make a good knife blade, perhaps a high-priced letter opener though... ;-) Ti is light, tough, flexible and resistant to heat and chemicals. Best suited for airplanes that fly 3x the speed of sound at 100,000' ASL.
   Zero - Thursday, 03/20/03 21:48:42 GMT

Thomas Powers:

My kids would say "jinks" right about now... Like minds, eh?
   Zero - Thursday, 03/20/03 21:53:43 GMT


Not "white heat" but "orange heat"!

PTP, Zero. PTP, Zero...
   Zero - Thursday, 03/20/03 22:11:35 GMT

Hehehe Like the sailboat fuel line. That's why I take everything he says with a grain of salt... well, if you consider a saltblock a grain. (Grin) I've caught him with eronious information too many times to credit what he says without running it through a BS detector.

Worst parts are when he seems to be doing the "I've never done it so it can't be done" syndrome, or when his personal opinion is the only correct way.
   Monica - Thursday, 03/20/03 23:29:51 GMT

hilandhillbilly, Chi Kung, or Ki Gong, is mild stretch and movement exercises accompanied by slow, matched belly breathing. The exercises were developed in China. There are specific ones designed to open the joints and the body's "energy channels", including the spine.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/21/03 00:23:55 GMT

Titanium: Several weeks ago we had someone (Atli I think) ask about titanium swords. Apparently a "sword smith" in Canada advertises his "titanium" blades. They are actually supposed to be a titanium alloy steel (only traces of Ti) . . . not titanium metal OR a titanium alloy but it was hard to decypher from the description. The fact is the type of steel mentioned is not particularly good for blades and is rare enough that it is probably not what is really being used. In fact all the blade descriptions were full of poorly stated information that were quite creative. . and had little to do with reality.

In the blade trade where pseudo science as well as myth is used to sell cheap imported blades "titanium" is a sexy term used to woo the ignorant. It ranks right up there with "living steel".

Ti takes on beautiful temper colors and some really oustanding effects can be created using a form of electro anodizing. It has ben used to make some very interesting jewelery.

Ti has a density of 4.5 g/cm3, steel 7.8, aluminium 2.7 and magnesium 1.74. High strength aluminum alloys are about the strength of mild steel but have limited ductility. Magnesium when alloyed with a little aluminum is as strong as low alloy aluminium but considerably lighter and is the reason it is used in many high performance applications such as in race cars.

Ti is VERY heavy when compared to aluminium but you use less for the same job (because it is stronger than aluminium) AND it is lighter than steel. In aerospace applications it is used where high temperatures are expected. Steel is still the best material for most applications because of its strength and low cost. However, in applications where weight is a large factor other materials that are not as good as steel are used in its place.

For making "all metal" devices like blades with a metal grip aluminium and magnesium are great when used with steel for the blade. Aluminium can be anodised thus having a very durable finish. Magnesium is very light weight and is comparitively close to plastics and bone in density. Brass and bronze on the other hand is denser than steel and not as strong. Thus parts must be larger and this increases the weight disadvantage even further.

Knowing what materials are good for and how they are best applied is an important part of design and engineering. But today that is often secondary to a sales pitch that is often a lot of BS. Sadly, anyone with a good technical understanding of metals and use of terms can write a very sexy description of an annealed low carbon blade and make it sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread - WITHOUT lying about the facts.
   - guru - Friday, 03/21/03 01:07:18 GMT

Cathy Morgan, Go to a farm tractor repair shop and take your belt with you. Hay balers for round bales use belts with this type of connector, shouldn`t be too hard to get fixed up with a new one.
   - Robert-ironworker - Friday, 03/21/03 03:08:10 GMT

One of my favorite "titanium" stories involves Robb Gunther, who, while working at Sandia Labs, was involved in a discussion with a boss about the high cost of machining titanium parts from billet stock. This process makes for a lot of very expensive chips. Robb suggested that the parts be roughed out by forging, then finished up in the machine shop, whereupon the boss let him know that titanium couldn't be forged. The boss was one of these folks who like to back up to a door jamb and scratch his back, so, after he left, Robb got a piece of titanium, hammered out a Chinese backscratcher, and left it on the guy's desk. 'nuff said.
   3dogs - Friday, 03/21/03 13:21:04 GMT

Titanium alloy steel: The primary use of titanium in steel alloys is for grain refinement. Titanium combines with nitrogen to form TiN (titanium nitride, the stuff they coat drill bits with). The TiN particles form at grain boundaries and act to prevent grain growth when the steel is re-heated for rolling or forging. It can dramatically improve toughness but has no appreciable effect on the hardness of steel. As the Guru pointed out, many disreputable dealers count on the ignorance of the general public to sell sexy sounding stuff that is, in fact, just snake oil.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 03/21/03 13:39:06 GMT

McMaster-carr I got one after begging on hands and knees (gave them me business name, FIN #, and placed an order from them) then my old man went and stole it on me... told me I had a computer and I could look up what I needed...he can be ..not nice at times.
sailboat fuel line....rope?

   MP - Friday, 03/21/03 15:42:55 GMT

Want to change McMaster Carr's attitude about catalogs?

Call the 800 number and ask for one. When they say no, reply, "OK no problem, I'll look it up in my MSC catalog! I've got it on CD, so it's easier anyway!" and hang up.

If enough of us do it, watch the attitude change.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/21/03 16:08:56 GMT

Hello Gurus,
I'm not a blacksmith or anything of the sort, but I took the time to read through your page and postings, but I could find no answer to my question. Therefore, I would like to ask:
I am looking into buying a collection of tomahawks. I have found many suppliers, and I don't know what to ask or even what is good. Can you direct me to a good smith or supplier or give me some direction.

Thanks for your time...........I'm impressed with your site.
   Casey - Friday, 03/21/03 22:59:16 GMT

Casey, I'm not sure how to direct you on this. If you intend to be a collector you need to study what is available and learn to look closely at the details. Unless photos are very good I would not purchase this type item via mail order. You need to look out for cheap imports. Most of the "armouries" carry loads of stuff made over seas that is bought there for only one reason, it is cheap. There IS quality imports just as there is quality domestic production but most of the catalog operations are selling cheap stuff for reenactors that do not have a large budget. They are far from collectable.
   - guru - Friday, 03/21/03 23:40:03 GMT

Guru, who sells Kohlswa anvils in these here United States??
Can't seem to google up a dealer.

Thanks, Kent
   Kent Fowler - Saturday, 03/22/03 02:12:03 GMT


I asked one of my "iron artist" friends back in Arkansas, and he said that Kentucky Horseshoeing School was a US supplier for Kohlswa anvils. He gave me a phone number -(800) 626-5359. They have a web site that says nothing about anvil sales, but he's usually a reliable source of info on stuff like this.

   eander4 - Saturday, 03/22/03 03:51:33 GMT

guru: I started my first blade today. and I have a question. I am making it out of a triangular file and it curved, alot I'm just wondering on future blades how could I prevent this? I still think I can make a decent blade out of it ; but I'm just wondering.
   Blades - Saturday, 03/22/03 04:11:20 GMT

Hey I got the answer I needed on the Pub thanks I was told to bend the blade a little before tapering it . I'll try it on the next one.
   Blades - Saturday, 03/22/03 04:33:13 GMT

Blades: and blades:-) Actually you can flip the blade on it back and hammer down on the edge and force the knife back so that it is straight. Curving the blank slightly before you start to bevel is better form and once you get the hang of how much and where you curve it, will give you better results, but you don't absolutely have to do it that way:-) If you are using coal as your heat source you can also concentrate your heat to get the spine of the knife hotter to straighten it out without distorting the edge too much. In a gasser you just pull it out and wait just a few seconds as the edge cools faster since it is thinner than the spine.

For blade work especially!!!Wire brush often, and don't forge too close your desired finished demensions. You are going to want to be able to grind it to a smooth polish, and if you forge too close you will not have enough material there once you are finished with the grining:-) (or you won't be able to take out your pits...) WIRE BRUSH!!! scale is your enemy, if you pound it into the surface of the knife without removing it with a wire brush, it will leave the surface pitted, and you will have more grinding to do and less knife when you are finished... Temperature control, and keeping the blade in a reducing atmosphere as much as possible will give you much better results in the long run.

For me the forging is the fun and the easy part (the fitting all the parts of the knife together tightly and cleanly, and final finish are the buggaboos:-)
   Fionnbharr - Saturday, 03/22/03 05:00:43 GMT

Casey, Crazy Crow Trading Post of Pottsboro, Texas, has just printed Catalog 20 for $4.00, and it has about 2Ĺ pages of period looking tomahawks and hatchets to look at. www.crazycrow.com The iron/steel pipe tomahaws were a big trade item in the early days and were smokable through the combo handle/stem. The real thing, an old one, could be quite expensive. They are mostly found in museums and private collections. A quality replica made by a smith could be fairly expensive. Harold Peterson's book, American Indian Tomahawks, probably out of print, is a great resource.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/22/03 05:19:49 GMT

I am considering building a coke fired furnace, do you have any designs?
   Alfred - Saturday, 03/22/03 11:34:01 GMT

I have to make some lag bolts for a specialty intstalation I have made plenty of bolts and threaded them in the past but how do you makea tapered screw?
   Mark P - Saturday, 03/22/03 15:18:13 GMT

Mark P; While, esthetically, it would be nice to say that even the lag bolts were hand forged, practicality and economy would lead me, personally, to get commercial black steel lag bolts and reforge the heads to the desired "look". Good luck, 3dogs.
   3dogs - Saturday, 03/22/03 15:42:43 GMT

Mark P., In the "olden days", the threads were filed with 3-corner and knife files. I found this out taking apart old flintlock rifles for cleaning. Each screw was different, so they had to be marked and matched to the holes from which they came.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/22/03 18:08:52 GMT

Alfred, I made "Lag bolts" for an installation for a lighting fixture in a big beam. I used a punch with a taper from about 3/8 to 1/4 inch to make a spring die. I did not flare out the edges of the die. When I hammered a piece of 1/2 inch stock in the die, I got a taper on a section with flash out the sides. I heated and twisted the piece using water to cool the 1/4 inch end as I got the twist I needed. The 1/4 inch end was cut off and the 1/2 inch end headed. I did drill 5/16 inch pilot holes but it did not take a lot of twist over about 4 inches to hold well. After that effort, I now reforge the heads on commercially available bolts. Even hex head can be chiseled to look like hand made decorative bolts.
   Coalforge - Saturday, 03/22/03 19:03:07 GMT

Kohlswa Anvils Kentucky farrier supply is a dealer but aparently doesn't push them. Piehtool is working on carrying them and is hammering out the details.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/22/03 20:41:51 GMT

Lag Bolts: Wood screws were made by two seperate methods, twisting and by filing the threads. Square head lag bolts which had plenty of material in the head to rework are no longer made unless you special order them by the thousands a year in advance AND prepay. Kayne and Son has pyramid head crews and some square heads I think.

I would get overlength lag bolts (or wood screws) with some plain shank and rehead them to make a decorative head.

Another option is to make decorative support washers to go under the bolt. This way you can use standard bolts and have a decorative surround. If you counter sink the hex head in a hole then it is not obviously a hex bolt.

Pretty wood screws of standard shape are a modern device produced on screw machines. "Modern" meaning since about the mid 1800's at the peak of the industrial revolution.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/22/03 20:56:55 GMT

Coke Furnace Alfred, what do you mean by "furnace", forge, kiln, smelter, crucible, boiler, central heat?

Coke is burned in standard forges but takes a slightly deeper fire and a constant air supply (no bellows or hand cranks).

We currently only have one coal forge plan posted and that is for a beginners "brake drum" forge.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/22/03 21:02:32 GMT

"hammering out the details".....

Come on Jock, you can do better than that!
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/22/03 21:09:15 GMT

Guru, or whoever else could help. I'm looking to buy a gs forge for home use. smithing is only a hobby and i don't wnat to spend too much i'm looking at the nc forges but i want to know if they reach htemperaturs high enough to weld with. Do you have any feedback on these forges?
   HammerFall - Saturday, 03/22/03 21:16:52 GMT

Thanks guys pretty much what I thought the price they are willing to pay precludes hand filing threads.... I'll go get some washing line hooks (they come with 2" of thread and 8" of shank and hook) and burn the crome off and reshape them .... yep I know about the dangers of burning off the shiney stuff it'll happen at the end of the day with the forge outside and downwind from the house.
   Mark P - Saturday, 03/22/03 21:41:48 GMT

NC Forges HammerFall, The small single burner NC runs a tad cool for forge welding but most of the two burners and up work fine. However, the problem using any of the light weight refractory lined forges is damage to the forge lining by flux. The NC and some other forges have lightweight refractory walls and roof which are rapidly attacked by flux. ITC-100 can reduce the damage quite a bit but is not 100% effective. It also increases the maximum operating temperature which helps in forge welding.

All atmospheric (non-blower) propane forges opperate at approximately the same temperature. Most manufacturers rate their forges at the the common temperature of fuel burning in free air. However, forges, due to backpressure plus stored and reflected heat actually operate at higher temperatures.

Hard refractory forges are more durable but they also take more fuel and are heavier. If you want a portable forge you do not want one that is hard refractory lined as they are quite heavy. . . decisions, decisions. .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/22/03 22:24:03 GMT

Guru: as you pointed out, the Whimper Baby forge runs a bit cooler than the two-burner forges. However, I have heard several experienced smiths say that it is possible to forge weld with a lower temperature. Since forge welding depends on getting two hot, nearly scale-free surfaces together under pressure, I can see, theoretically, that this could be possible with proper preparation. Obviously, more heat makes the iron oxide flow better and gives you more time to get the bond. I have read your comments that your Whimper Baby doesn't get quite hot enough to forge weld, but does that mean it can't be done or that it is just easier to go fire up your coal forge? While it is far easier to flip the switch on my buzz box, there are times when a forge weld is more suitable and I would really like to know if you or any of the assistant Gurus have a method to forge weld at lower heat.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/22/03 23:12:59 GMT

thanks a lot guru, this was a big dilema for me and now i cna finally go ahead and start to smith a lot more once i buy this new forge... thanks for the help
   HammerFall - Sunday, 03/23/03 00:17:12 GMT

I just received my first anvil today and it looks quite old but in farelly good shape there are no markings on it that i can tell could someone maybe tell me why this is and also there are a few dings and dents along the edges not real bad but they are definatley noticeable and a couple of depressions on the flat spot could someone let me know if i should repair this or is it an advantage maybe just needs to be dressed up a bit thx any help would be greattly appreciated
   - realale - Sunday, 03/23/03 01:50:20 GMT

I am looking for plans for a side draft forge. I have checked the plans directory on your site and there are hood diagrams for these forges but how do you construct the forge itself? Is there a book available that has these plans or is there a website with them? Thanks for any help.
   - Will - Sunday, 03/23/03 16:55:10 GMT

Welding in a gasser: QC Swan's flux is designed to facilitate welding at temps lower than coal fire welding temps. I *think* the issue is to lower the melting point of the scale - once the scale melts it seals the metal against further oxidation yet flows out of the way when the when the parts are hammered together. In anycase, Swans is effective.
   - adam - Sunday, 03/23/03 18:37:09 GMT


Where can we get it?
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/23/03 18:57:38 GMT

Unmarked Anvil: Realale, Quite a few anvils have been manufactured with no markings. They were sold to hardware houses like Sears that were going to private brand them and may have done so but not with permanent markings.

However, many over the forged anvils have very shallow markings that rust, dirt, paint and time often make difficult to detect. Clean the sides of the anvil well with a wire brush and look for shallow or faint markings. If you cannot read them then take a rubbing (like they do on old grave stones). This often shows more than you can see by eye.

Often an expert can tell what brand the anvil is by its shape and style. To the uneducated eye all anvils look alike but to one familiar with many brands they are as different peoples faces.

Send me a good photo (well lit showing the entire anvil) and I may be able to tell for you.

DO NOT make repairs. If you have to ask how then you have no business trying to OR making the decision as to whether repairs need to be made. Anvils are much more sophisticated in construction, materials and heat treating than most people know. Unless the defects are severe to the point of making the anvil usless you are best off working around them.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/23/03 19:01:07 GMT

Welding Fluxes: Most fluxes designed to make welding easier contain iron powder. There is nothing wrong with this but you DO NOT want to use them if making laminated steel as they contaminate the metal. Borax is a good all around flux but the iron bearing fluxes do help.

Paw-Paw I thing Swans is a British product. The Kaynes sell Anti-Borax that is a similar product I believe.

Gas vs. Coal: Most folks that use both agree that coal is easier to weld with. The general flexibility of solid fuel forges and the ease of positioning the work compared to gas forges may be part of it. But the higher temperature is definitely an advantage.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/23/03 19:09:47 GMT

Swan Welding Flux: PawPaw, Tom Clark carries Swans flux. Got to see Cecil Swan make a corrective horseshoe the other day at Toms' school. Quite impressive. Would like to have a Swan
gas forge, but the prices is quite impressive, also.

   Kent Fowler - Sunday, 03/23/03 19:23:53 GMT

Swans Magi-weld: many farrier supplier carry this product. Here is one I found

There is a wide range of prices. When I bought a couple of bottles, I searched around and found it for $12 for a 300ml bottle. Cant recall where :(. Its expensive but it goes a long way. I am pretty sure there is finely some powdered iron in it. I have never tried Anti Borax

Gas v Coal: Coal is MUCH easier IMO. If you want a welding heat just crank up the air and there you are. Might have to clean the fire but thats it. For a gas forge you have to pour a lot of BTUs into it and this usually takes some time. If you run a gasser at welding heat all the time you use a lot of propane. I know Grant Sarver does this but I suspect he has a direct tap into a refinery pipeline :).

IMO if you are running a gasser at forging temp the best way to do a forge weld is to use oxy acetylene or oxy propane to do a "drop the torch weld". ie use a torch to bring the parts up to welding heat and then weld on the anvil. Borax is fine for this. This no less legitimate than welding in a gas forge. It's quick, easy and uses very little fuel. Just doesnt look so cool at a demo
   - adam - Sunday, 03/23/03 19:54:59 GMT

a stainless steel casting has been bent in several locations.i propose to heat it enough to make it a bit soft or plastic then try to beat it back into shape using as little force as possible. what temperature should i try for?i could use a temperature crayon . is this feasable? thanks
   keith boates - Sunday, 03/23/03 20:01:51 GMT

Does anyone have a URL for Tom Clark? I'm shopping around a bit.

BTW, thanks for all the leads to Swans Flux.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/23/03 20:17:59 GMT

Rocket Widget Ok all you BEER guzzlers. What the heck does the Rocket Widget (little plastic plug with wings to keep it in the bottle) in Guinness Draught do? Found them rattling around in beer bottles at my sister's Saint Pactrick's Day party. Bottle says "Hear something? Thats the rocket widget to make Guinness Draught like real draft beer" (paraphrased).

No guessing. The guru wants to know. Haven't checked to see if there is a Guinness web-site with the answer. . .

Tom Clark is anti-Internet as far as I can tell. No e-mail or web-site.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/23/03 21:04:48 GMT

Bent Stainless: Keith, Anything less than a bright red heat will not help in straightening the casting. Stainless is actually stiffer at a low red heat and prone to cracking in the blue brittle range. But it depends on the alloy. Most cast SS is roughly equivalent to 304SS. An option is to heat the entire casting to a red and then quench to anneal and straighten cold.

The problem in both cases is that the red heat is going to cause scaling of the surface (heavy oxidation) and machined surfaces may no longer be usable. SO. . . your best bet may be to put the part in a press and straighten it cold and hope that it is ductile enough to be bent a second time.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/23/03 21:12:53 GMT

rocket widget
it is a CO2 charge to give it that fuzzy just from the tap feel.(also a longer shelf life) I think it is only in the cans.. that is why most guinness drinker only go for it in the can and on tap
   MP - Sunday, 03/23/03 21:46:52 GMT

Tom Clark
Probably close as you will get. I have reached him through that site.
   - adam - Sunday, 03/23/03 22:21:10 GMT


2nd Question on the FAQ page is about the plastic "widget".
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/23/03 23:00:59 GMT

Paw-paw. . . you know better. cut and paste. Guinness has two n's. Yep says it has a pressurized charge that puts a head on the beer when opened. Comes in bottles and cans. We had bottles with them. . . Strange world. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/23/03 23:53:42 GMT

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