WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.0

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

This is an archive of posts from March 24 - 31, 2003 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Will, The side blast forge is diagrammed in the book, "The Blacksmith and His Art" by Hawley. I don't know whether Allday & Sons in England still manufacture them, but they did a few years ago.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/24/03 00:14:35 GMT


MP is right about the rocket widget. When I owned the bar, we used to sell Guinness Pub Draft. Came in 16oz. cans with the widget. The beer is moderately carbonated until the can is opened, which activates the widget, carbonating the beer to the full amount. Several Irishmen who came through the place attested to the fact that the Guinness in the tap can was much superior to th bottled stuff, and almost as good as true draught. They DID prefer theirs almost warm, though.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/24/03 01:19:05 GMT


When I still owned the bar, Guinness bottles didn't have the widget, only th eDraught cans did. I guess they're now making the Draught in bottles, too. I wonder what it is inside it? Maybe something that pops open when the pressure is released by opening the can/bottle? Then some sodium citrate (the fizz-maker in Alka-seltzer)or something like that to add carbonation?
   vicopper - Monday, 03/24/03 01:23:35 GMT

There are 4 kinds of Guinness available.

The bar (draught) Guinness from a stout tap is dispensed from the Keg with 30psi of a 77/23% Nitrogen/CO2 mix.

The Pub Cans have a widget that releases a gas mix once opened, and is designed to be poured immediately into a pint glass. It is reasonably close to draught Guinness.

The new bottles have a second kind of "rocket" widget that relases gasses each time the bottle is upended. This is slightly inferior Guinness.

Lastly there is Guiness in the bottles san widget. This is actually not an "extra stout". It is basically close to a porter in nature, and dosesn't have the rich creamy goodness of the nitrogenated Guiness.

My goodness, My Guinness. =]
   - njaffo - Monday, 03/24/03 02:13:53 GMT

Dear Guru, I am new convert to the world of metalworking and am interested in learning more about the craft. The local college does not offer any courses in metalworking and I am wondering where the best place for me to turn to next would be. I have plentiful recources and shop space and would love to learn this trade. Thank you for any help you can give to me. mike
   mike madsen - Monday, 03/24/03 02:38:29 GMT

Schools: Mike, folks travel all across the country to take courses or to take part in workshops. Among the schools are Frank Turley's, Turley Forge Blacksmithing School in Sante Fe, NM. (see THE GURUS at the top of this page), John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC., Penland also in NC . . . and many others.

Many colleges and universities have metalworking programs associated with their art departments if they teach sculpture. Community colleges or trade schools are both more likely to have welding and general metalworking courses. Our local community college in Lynchburg, Virgina has welding courses, general metalworking and machine shop courses as well as drafting and related courses.

Almost all the ABANA-Chapters have monthly meetings often with demonstrators, open forges and workshops. Membership in you local chapter is cheap especially considering the number of meeting in a year.

There are also major conferences that you can attend and both observe internationaly known smiths as well as take workshops. In the Southeast we have the Southeastern Conference held in Madison GA which will be held this May 15, 16, 17. July 10th through 13th the CanIron IV conference. The Alabama Forge Council holds several major events each year and so do the Texas blacksmiths groups.

Although it is not for everyone many modern smiths are self taught. See our getting started article and the books listed and our reviews of those books. For books contact Norm Larson, Artisan Ideas or check the PiehToolCo website in the coming month. We have hundreds of step by step tutorial/projects on our iForge page and are here to answer questions about the things you don't understand.

   - guru - Monday, 03/24/03 03:51:57 GMT

Schools. . I forgot to mention, ABANA maintains about the best list of blacksmithing schools.

If you are not in the US there are blacksmithing organizations in Britian, Canada, Germany and New Zealand that operate very much like our ABANA chapters and there are conferences in all those places.

You can also study the craft by looking at the work of other smiths. Although it is often far between and confused with cast and fabricated work there is much wrought in in major cities especialy the older cities in the eastern US. There are also single destinations such as the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. that are wonderful to tour. You could spend days at the Washington National Cathedral and not see all the iron work to your satisfaction.
   - guru - Monday, 03/24/03 04:08:17 GMT

Dear Guru, I have just aquired a 560lbs. Trexton anvil... could you share any information about the Trexton Anvil company and any tips on how to establish how old this anvil might be? thank you for your help concerning this matter Brian @ Busters Fab shop.
   busters fab shop - Monday, 03/24/03 08:30:30 GMT

Casey, Go to some Artist Blacksmith Assn. events, blade shows, rondevous, etc and meet the people who make tomahawks. Any of us will be glad to explain what we do and how we do it. You can see what is available and decide exactly what you want....<]:-)
   Ron Childers - Monday, 03/24/03 13:03:46 GMT

Guru, try Britain

Only three publicised sources of forge training in the UK (please prove my wrong someone).

Hereford College

Rural development commission (CSIRO, or under some other name, link given about a month ago

The Wessex Guild of Smiths, at Cannington College, Cannington, Somerset

There may be other farrier based courses.
   Nigel - Monday, 03/24/03 13:34:12 GMT

Mike perhaps the best way to get started is to let us know your general area! I'm with the Mid Ohio Blacksmiths and we'd be happy to stick a hammer in your hand at a local meeting. Over near Dayton OH is the "Quad-State Blacksmith's Round-Up" in late September that is *very* *VERY* good to go to. Early June is the Indiana Conference.

The ABS school in Southern AR is a great place if you want to learn bladesmithing---lots of places and people willing to help but we need some idea of where you are at to direct you! I started on my own and will cheerfully admit that 1 Saturday afternoon working with a smith will save about 6 months of trying to figure things out on your own every Saturday...

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/24/03 15:19:29 GMT

re Guinness
see the kind of useless stuff you can learn in bars?
I love triva!!
   MP - Monday, 03/24/03 15:24:45 GMT

Busters fab shop:

Your anvil is likely a Trenton made by the Columbus Forge and Iron Company of Columbus, Ohio. For some reason they changed the "N" to and "X" in the late 1930's.

Look at the the front foot. The weight should be stamped on the left (maybe following a letter), the serial number is on the right (may also follow the letter "A"). Send us these numbers and we'll try and date your anvile for you.
   Zero - Monday, 03/24/03 15:48:00 GMT

the the = the
Anvile = Anvil

   Zero - Monday, 03/24/03 15:51:06 GMT

560 Pound Anvil? Thats a BIG one. Is it shaped like a big arch? The two legged arched anvils are called "bridge
anvils and were popular in the oil fields for some reason. Most were very heavy ranging from 500 to 1,000 pounds. Although the familiar London pattern anvil has been made in 500 and 600 pound sizes they are quite rare.
   - guru - Monday, 03/24/03 16:03:16 GMT

Guru, I have never seen an bridge anvil but I wonder if their use in the oil fields was related to straightening of bent tubulars, drill collars, etc?
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 03/24/03 18:09:26 GMT

I'm seeking a BS in New England (ME, MA, NH) who has a power roller in his smithy and who will help me forge out some damascus I've already made/acquired. I'm designing and making furniture for a flintlock rifle and need to form the iron into uniform sheets 1/8" and 1/16" thick. My experimentation has shown me I can expect the material to be very tough to work and I think I can save myself a LOT of file work if I begin with the correct thickness and dimensions. I'm not a Smith but I have worked in and around a smithy a number of times. I'll be happy to pay shop rates for the help and/or trade some of my small quantity of wheel rim wrought for help. Anyone interested drop me an email and let's communicate. Thanks
   - Jerry Crawford - Monday, 03/24/03 18:48:15 GMT

Most of the anvils used in the oil patch were used to *sharpen* drillbits back in the old cable tool days when the "drilled" by raising and dropping a heavy "bit" pounding their way through the rock...bailing was another thing....

After a certain ammount of hammering they became mushroomed and needed to be pounded back into shape---hence the forge and *large* anvil.

I've talked to some of the old smiths that have done it and I own one of the bridge anvils though only about 350#?

still trying to figure out how you would *bend* modern drill collar!

worked in the patch back in the early 80's

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/24/03 19:11:34 GMT

One other conference coming up in the Southeast - Batson Blade Symposium at Tannehill in Alabama, first weekend in April. Certainly the two local chapters I attend regularly are always happy to see a newcomer, and will put a hammer and steel in your hand just about as quick as you can walk through the door.

   Steve A - Monday, 03/24/03 19:14:10 GMT

Concerning Coke- I am working with a coal fire and have read that it is very good, even
necessary to make coke and then start to use the fire. I have worked with the fire with no
coke and it has appeared to work fine. Then also a few times I have tried to make coke,
but every time I have tried I put my fire out. Any suggestions??

Also I have read that the coal fire should burn blue. Mine is the same orange as a wood
fire. Is that a bad thing??

   - maxslv1 - Monday, 03/24/03 22:17:08 GMT

Helo I was wondering if Eric Thing would be willing to post the designes for his sheet metal forge. I have looked all over the internet and still have not found one set of designes. I have made my own designe but I do not know if it will work, not work or blowup on me. Any help would be usefull.

I R Viking
   i r viking - Monday, 03/24/03 22:31:07 GMT

Sorry I forgot to add. Thanks for any help.
   i r viking - Monday, 03/24/03 22:34:23 GMT

Coke and Coal: Jon, coal burns orange, yellow and white. Parts in the core of the fire may burn blue but you usualy cannot see it. Good blacksmithing coal (high BTU, low ash bituminous coal) cokes down as it burns in a forge. At the center of the fire coke burns heating the surrounding raw coal and gasing off the volitiles leaving light porus coke. This process is continous as you feed fresh fuel around the sides of the fire (until you have to break up the fire to remove clinkers).

To make coke in a forge from bituminous coal you build a large fire, mound on fresh coal and let it "simmer" without a blast of air. Usualy about 1/2 to 2/3 of the pile will convert to coke, the rest burning up or not coking. Sometimes the fire will put itself out but you should always check and break it up. A leak in your tuyeer will allow enough air to feed the fire by natural draft and burn up most of the coal.

When starting a new fire with stored coke on hand you start the fire with a small amount of fresh coal then push the coke on top of that and then more fresh coal (which will coke down before it reaches the burning part of the fire.).

Many grades of coal do not coke. Anthacite and other coal with too little volatiles will not coke. Coal with too high of ash content does not coke well.

If you do not know what grade of coal you are using or if it is good coking coal ask another smith. If they cannot help you then order some coal from Kayne and Sons. They sell a high grade coal that is as good as you can get for smithing.
   - guru - Monday, 03/24/03 22:37:22 GMT

Coke. When you light the green ( unburned coal) it will basically turn into coke. If you get your fire going and mound a little green coal around the sides and back of your fire the heat form the forge will conver the coal to coke, by causing the volitle gasses and tars to burn off.
If you pile a large amount of coal on the fire and do not have a good hole in the top to allow the gasses to come out you can risk a small methane explosion or even a large one....

If the coal you use dose not make a pile of coke which looks a tad bit like a burnt to a crisp marshmallow) then you may have anthracite or hard coal.
   Ralph - Monday, 03/24/03 22:38:14 GMT

Spider (from the mail): Jim Waters asks,
At present I am working on early 1800's miners spiders. I had a book(since lost in moving so much),that showed, with photos,how the miners candle or miners light originated in China 3,000 years ago,and became an art form,as it did in the old western US,in the 1800,s.

I have searched,and exhausted,all of the resourses available to me,trying to find this book. I don't remember the title or the author. Can you help?
   - guru - Monday, 03/24/03 22:41:53 GMT

PPW re Swan's... I think Tom Stovall has a source.....
   Ralph - Monday, 03/24/03 22:43:42 GMT

Armor Forge: IRV, I have discussed this with Eric but he had some reservations about libility issues. I will ask again.
   - guru - Monday, 03/24/03 22:52:23 GMT

I was forging a piece of flat mild steel a half inch thick and two inches across over the weekend and was painfully reminded that an anvil operates like a large heat sink aside from its intended purpose. Embarassed but not injured I am wondering how much heat is too much for a 75lb anvil? How often should I take a break to let it cool down? And be assured I do know better than to dump a bucket of water on it. Thanks.
   - Will - Monday, 03/24/03 23:53:28 GMT

Guru, I have been asked to make a saddle rack for a show saddle the the owner won roping. I was thinking of using 3/8's or 1/2 inch cable for the legs (to look like rope). Now the problem how can I make the cable stiff to hole up the saddle? Thank you William
   triw - Tuesday, 03/25/03 00:24:44 GMT


I'm looking for info. on making charcoal. Any help? Thanks a lot.
   - Kevin - Tuesday, 03/25/03 00:25:30 GMT

hot anvil: When repairing anvils its recommended not to let the plate exceed 450F which I think is a straw oxide color.
   adam - Tuesday, 03/25/03 00:30:49 GMT

hole= hold
   triw - Tuesday, 03/25/03 00:32:58 GMT


Go to the anvilfire FAQs page and look under coal and charcoal OR see

   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/25/03 00:49:24 GMT


I'd use 1/2" square stock and a rope twist die from Off Center Products. The die puts a groove down the middle of the stock, and rounds over all the edges. When it's twisted, it looks exactly like rope, but is still solid stock so it retains it's stiffness.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/25/03 00:51:46 GMT


I'd do about what Paw Paw suggests, but I have to wait too long for stuff to get all the way here, so I'd do the grooving with a modified cold chisel. If you tack weld a couple of "ears" on the sides of a cold chisel, it will guide it and keep it centered in the square (or round) stock. With a helper, you can get all the stock grooved about as fast as you can heat it. Then knock the corners down and twist it. You can even decorate the face of a hammer specially for a surface effect if you want. A few shallow grooves cut into the face with a file will impress lines into the surface. When twisted, these help it look even more like rope.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/25/03 01:09:47 GMT

Rope Dies Paw-paw, they are best used on round stock.

Without dies you can make rope simply by incising hot round bar with a 60° V chisel. This method is painfully slow but it works. I've done it supporting the stock a swage block. To accurately look like rope it should be done in three places equaly spaced on the bar. Rope dies do it in four and most people can't tell the difference but it is not accurate.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 03:43:58 GMT

Thanks Ralph. If it would help tell him that I am personaly not concerned about liability. My parents may have different concerns but they would probably sign any waver if he were wiling to supply a design that has worked for a while. Thanks again Ralph
   i r viking - Tuesday, 03/25/03 04:25:37 GMT

helo kevin there is site on www.ezboard.com that might shed some light on this it has a few tutorials on charcoal makeing and you could post a question and get a response rather swiftly. Check under PRIMAL FIRES and it has lots of related forums, such as Primal liveing, Knifemaking Unpluged, Muscle Powered Metlasmithing, Wood Working Unplugged. You should find what you need there.
   i r viking - Tuesday, 03/25/03 04:30:41 GMT

triw et al, I don't have a piece of cable to try it on, but I wonder if one could unlay the cable and remove the core, and re-lay the strands around the appropriate size of solid round bar, then fuse the strands with a welding torch or in the fire. Might work. 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 03/25/03 07:26:46 GMT

That should read "fuse the ENDS of the strands". 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Tuesday, 03/25/03 07:32:19 GMT

ooop's....forgot this from above request for a NE Blacksmith

   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 03/25/03 12:33:00 GMT

Thomas, in thinking this through, they probably didn't use drill collars when these anvils were necessary. As you pointed out, a cable rig used a massive steel cylinder with cutting teeth forged into it. The hole was pounded down, not drilled. Rotary drilling became prevalent later when Howard Hughes Sr. invented the tri-cone bit to replace the fishtail bit. If you worked "the patch" you will recall that drillers are as clever as blacksmiths and could bend or straighten things that would seem impossible....a block and tackle and a few levers and they could do wonders. I will look through some books I have on oilwell drilling to see if I can find any info on the bridge anvils.
   - Quenchcrack - Tuesday, 03/25/03 13:32:05 GMT

Bridge anvils, etc. The Shidoni Foundry in Santa Fe did a bronze pour of a couple of strikers dressing a cable tool on a bridge anvil about 15 years ago. I can't call the artist's name, but she was from Midland, Texas, and probably worked from photos and perhaps, interviews with oldtimers. The tool was rigged to be held at a slight angle on the anvil, and the strikers used various "angle-blows" to dress the business end.

I demoed for the Saltfork Craftsmen at the Southwest Iron Works in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in 1997. There I saw a nice bridge anvil and the largest swage block I could ever imagine seeing. David King is the owner, and the iron works is a veritable museum (by appointment). David said that the swage block was found buried in a junk pile outside the buildings, when he was cleaning up. It was no doubt cast at the iron works, itself.

I'll return to the Southwest Iron Works this year to demo again, October 11-12, and I'll see if I can't get some images to send to anvilfire.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/25/03 14:19:56 GMT

Anvil Heat: TRIW, This is one of those areas that we often forget to mention when we discuss anvil size, the mass of the work and how it heats the anvil. Large work needs a large anvil to prevent softening the face. Any temperature over 350°F (176°C) MAY temper the face (softening it) depending on how hot the face was tempered any time in the past. The size work you were doing is out of the normal range for for a 75 pound American pattern anvil. Hornless and early short horn anvils of the same weight with more mass in the center than late anvils can be used for heavier work. There are no published rules on the anvil to work ratio. It is something you pick up from experiance.

Anvils often get uncomfortably hot to touch (that's ~140°F (~60°C) and up). Once in a while they will get hot enough to make a little steam (boiling point). Forged anvils and solid cast steel anvils can easily withstand quenching to cool at these temperatures. Just don't work on a wet anvil. The water will make steam explosions under the hot part.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 14:25:39 GMT

Frank, photos of both the swage and bridge anvil would be nice. I've been collecting both anvil and swage block photos for articles in progress.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 14:36:47 GMT

Creasing for rope twists and other: I am making a creaser based on this one:

The main idea being to set a groove in the hot bar that can be easily followed by a narrow fuller. What bevel should I use for the edge? I am thinking 60deg? This would have the added benefit of being useful for cold marking too.
   adam - Tuesday, 03/25/03 15:05:19 GMT

Test. This is only a test of the POST button... trying to figure out why neighbour blacksmith can't post here.
   - John Galuszka - Tuesday, 03/25/03 15:28:31 GMT

While i was trying to sleep last night I was wondering wether or not he would send me his e-mail address so I can attach my design I have made for him to check over and aprove or disaprove. Thanks again Ralph

I R Viking
   i r viking - Tuesday, 03/25/03 15:41:48 GMT

Working with Damascus/sheet: Jerry, very few smiths have rolling mills and the current type called a "McDonald Mill" used by bladesmiths is not suitable for making sheet. However I suspect they will roll uniform flat stock in the thickness you are looking for in widths of about 2 to 3" (50 to 75mm). If you want wider it will need to be forged under a large power hammer. Large hammers are much more common than rolling mills of any type in blacksmith shops in the US.

Normal lamimated steel is usualy designed for bladsmiths and is very hard tough material. For blade and gun furniture you want a soft low carbon version made from either wrought iron or pure iron and a nickle alloy (also low carbon). The combination of materials will produce a strong color differential when etched and be very workable cold using normal tools.

Although there are a lot of folks from whom you can purchase "Damascus" (actually laminated steel) blanks most of this work is entirely custom and every billet special made for a specific purpose. In fact they should not be forged as they are designed for producing a blade by stock removal as delivered. In your case you will probably want to produce the stock oversize and then grind the entire surface by 1/32 to 1/16" to get down to a clean crisp pattern.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 16:25:06 GMT

Guru, a friend of mine purchased a 500 lb anvil with a logo on the side that is a triangle with a horse shoe in it, horse shoe is pointed up not down, can't see any other marks on it would you have any information on this?
   martin gabbert - Tuesday, 03/25/03 16:26:30 GMT

Friend of mine bought a old 500 lb anvil, don't know who made it or how old it is, has a triangle logo on the side with a horse show in it pointing up, can you shed any light on this
   martin gabbert - Tuesday, 03/25/03 16:31:09 GMT

adam, i am curious about why you want to chase a groove with a narrow fuller to make a twisted rope "look"? i am trying to imagine what kind of effect that would produce. the last time i grooved a 1/2" sq and twisted it, i was impressed with how much work it took. cold with a chisel then grooved it with a hot cut. working alone, this process was very challenging. if i had a reason to do a large number of groove pieces, i would find a better way to do it. i hope to procure a fly press soon that will do that and more. collared joinery to me adds HUGE to a piece and if the collars are grooved, all the more effect...a fly press could groove a lot of stock for collars with minimal time and hammer...
   - rugg - Tuesday, 03/25/03 16:49:14 GMT

Triangle/horseshoe: Martin, I had never seen that logo so I called Richard Postman, author of Anvils in America. He had not seen it either so it is probably a special or a limited run made special for someone. The only old anvil he could think of with a horseshoe on it was a forged farrier's anvil made by Hay-Budden for Sears & Robuck. These would probably be in the 100 to 125 pound range.

Many farrier's schools have had runs of anvils cast to sell to their students. However, a 500 pound anvil is VERY large and farrier's anvils are not normally made that heavy. The largest usualy running about 200 pounds and the average being 125 pounds. So, are you sure of the weight? If the weight is someone's guess I would bet they are off 2:1.

Other details include whether or not the anvil is cast or forged. On cast anvils the logos and markings usualy are raised. On forged anvils they are stamped in. I suspect this one is cast as there are very few forged specials.

Its probably a cast special made in the twentieth century after 1930.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 16:58:18 GMT

Rugg, a power hammer will produce special bar stock much faster than a fly-press. Fly-presses have a slow cycle time and are not particularly good for long work.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:04:05 GMT

Anvil size question:

Am I likely to damage a 150# PW anvil using a 8# sledge?

I have been building a few of flowers from Iforge demo 53 (Bill Epps) and I have begun to worry about the step where you hammer the 2" section of 3/4" round into a 1/4" x 3" disk. This is quite a bit of heavy hammering over the hardy, and I wanted to make sure I am not likely to damage the anvil.

I am using a hardy tool much like the one in the demo....

BTW, I have gotten some VERY nice flowers using this demo! I wire wheel them and temper to blue/purple. A Lot of hamering, but worth it!


   -JIM - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:12:52 GMT

Power hammer answer:

A whie back I was having trouble with my 35# kerrihard stiking slowly and lightly. Turns out that the Guru was correct, the low temps thickened the grease enough to cause problems. Building the flowers yesrterday the hammer worked like a champ!

Thanks again Anvilfire!

   -JIM - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:16:13 GMT

Posting Problems: John, This site makes heavy use of Javascript as do many other sites. However, in a fit of fatheadedness Bill Gates left out the Javascript support in many copies of IE. The "java virtual engine" must be installed from the Microsnot site before those versions of IE will work on much of the web. THEN is a equally stupid manuver AOL changed many technical aspects of Netscape 6.x having to do with Javascript and it does not work correctly in many cases. It is no longer "browser wars" but "user alienation". Between Bill Gates' ego and AOL's corporate arogance it is amazing that anything works on the web.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:16:30 GMT

8# Sledge Jim, are you using it single handed or double handed swinging overhead? That makes about a five to one difference in force. I would not strike that small of anvil at or near the hardy hole overhanded with any sledge.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:23:22 GMT


Y'r right on the money on all points guru. I have already made up the "damascus" using a 50/50 mix of mild and wrought. For a novice that's many hours at the forge - as you know. It's in billets of about 2 - 3 inches wide and about a fat 1/8 - 1/4" thick. I was hoping to thin & spread it out some to take maximum advantage of what I have. Making a 7/16 dia tube with 1/8" sheet is a lot of forging and a lot of filing. To see an example of my experimentation take a look at this page.


I thought putting it (the hot iron) through a power roller would give me a more uniform surface and closer thickness dimension to start with. I can't get back to the Smithy where I worked to make this stuff & haven't had any luck on the knife maker sites finding help so I thought I'd try here.

This isn't a total loss if I have to do it the hard way. Just more hand filing work and time involved and a whole lot of MAP-gas & Oxy/Acet bottles used up. Thanks for your reply.

   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:24:14 GMT


I am using a double handed strike, but not a overhead (woodsplitting) swing. I hold the sledge with my top hand about 12" from the head, and I start the stroke about 8-10" above the anvil face. It's slow (4-6 heats to mash to 1/4") but seemed like the best mix of power and safety.

I have tried using my normal 2.5# hammer, but it is VERY slow.

   -JIM - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:31:28 GMT

Mapp and Acetylene? Jerry, its too easy to make a little coal or charcoal forge to be wasting these expensive fuel gases on forging. A gas forge using propane is also much cheaper and less likely to burn the work.

Sledge again: Jim, for this type work you may want a thick bolster plate and set it on the middle of the anvil or on a swage block (weld platten if you have one). All are strudier and provide better support than working out on the heal of the anvil.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 17:32:43 GMT

Groovy: Rugg. You're right its a lot of work. That's what prompted me to make this tool which I think will speed things up. I am not really planning to make any rope right now. I was just jumping on the bandwagon here in hopes of getting a speedy answer to my question. IS 60deg BEVEL A GOOD IDEA YESORNO? THANKYOUVERYMUCH - and dont be answering "it depends" :)

I am currently making some trivets by bending 3/4"x1/4" the hard way into a circle and then tenoning in 3 feet. Before bending the bar I incise a groove 3/16" in from each edge (I also punch the tenon sockets before bending). A lot of work but I think this tool will help.

At this stage I prefer to make tools that are general purpose and require some skill to use rather than specialized tools that do the whole job with a couple of sledge whacks. This seems like a tool that would have a lot of uses.

If I had to turn out a lot of trivets, no doubt I would change my mind in a hurry :)
   adam - Tuesday, 03/25/03 18:03:09 GMT

Jim: Just a thought but are you working hot enough? For flattening out the button into a disk I would take a welding heat. Perhaps delay drawing out the stem to its final thinness till you are done with the very hot work.
   adam - Tuesday, 03/25/03 18:13:44 GMT


A 60 angle will work.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/25/03 18:19:56 GMT

Re 500# anvil

Could this be a Columbian with the triangle and a "C" mis-read as a horseshoe?

As to liability: my insurance plan *requires* that I sue any third party involved in injuring myself; I do not have the option to *not* do it in case of major injury---so your willingness to risk it may not have an effect on the risk to the information provider. The legal aspects of waviers is more in the "convincing folk that they can't sue" than in actually preventing someone from sueing (dependent on case law in your jurisdiction) The safest way to protect yourself from a lawsuit is to be completely and absolutely broke!

I'll risk this much: one way to build a custom forge is to mount your burners in a block and then stack firebricks into the shape you need. Soft ones use up less heat but are more fragile.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/25/03 18:21:40 GMT


Once I have the stock reduced, dimensioned and blanks cut out I have a small "forge" design using a fire brick bored with a 1 1/2" hole through the long way that is a popular bench forge used by several other gun makers. It's fired by MAP and gets hot enough inside to bring parts up to heat quite rapidly. Once they are at that temp I can shape them easily and silver solder them together as pieces to make the whole - a trigger guard is an example made of 4 pieces. The Masters at Colonial Williamsburg can do it with one piece of square wrought and a half dozen heats. It may take me a whole day to do it.

My general reluctance to use a forge and anvil for this is I've got arthuritus pretty bad in my back and shoulder and can't swing a hammer any more than just long enough to embarrass myself.
   - Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 03/25/03 18:40:31 GMT


I am working at a bright orange heat. I can get my forge (NC whisper Daddy) up to welding heat, but I prefer not to as it uses alot of gas, and I am usually working something else at the same time. OTOH, Working hotter may help me get away with using a smaller hammer.

Drawing the stem: The method used for this flower draws the stem first out of the 3/4" round bar. I guess I could draw it part of the way, make the disk and then draw the rest of the way, but it would be much harder to hold and require more tooling. I may be able to get the button hotter without overheating the stem, if I a careful. I'll give it a try!

Thanks for the advice!
   -JIM - Tuesday, 03/25/03 19:58:24 GMT

GURU and Jim Waters,

Regarding the miners lights, I think you are looking for
"The Miner's Flame Light Book", by Henry A. Pohs, published
by Pohs in 1995. Henry sold these out of his shop in Denver. Unfortunately Henry has since passed away so I am
unsure where you might get a copy. This book is the "Postman" of the miner"s lamp world.
   JCG - Tuesday, 03/25/03 22:04:16 GMT

There are 4 copies of "The Miner's Flame Light Book" shown for sale at abebooks.com; but they are pretty pricey (else there would have been only 3).

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/25/03 22:19:10 GMT

Miners Flame Book - Thanks guys, the messages have been forwarded.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 22:39:41 GMT

MIA Larry Zoeller Larry's site at NTR.com and his e-mail no longer work. Has anyone out there been in touch with larry? I have someone looking for plans he had on his NTR site.

Larry if you are reading this we will host them for you rather than letting them dissapear.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/25/03 22:56:05 GMT

I know you've mentioned this several times already but I find the archives search confusing to use. What is the edition of Machinery's Handbook that is prefferred for smiths?
   adam - Tuesday, 03/25/03 23:25:40 GMT

PawPaw: thanks :)
   adam - Tuesday, 03/25/03 23:26:44 GMT

Machinery's Handbook is a living document changing with the times. If you want the most detailed articles on forge setup, thermit welding, babbiting, belt lacing and such now archaic technology you want the oldest editions you can find. Anything pre WWII covers these subjects in the most detail. But if you want information on the newest alloy tool steels, modern drafting, dimensioning and tolerancing standards and such you want a copy printed in the last decade.

All editions have the SAE steel chart and explanation of SAE steel numbers and the application and heat treating of standard steels. The majority of the content (at least 75%) is unchanged in the past 75 years with the exception that many articles have been shortened and made more compact so that more information can be added to a reasonable sized volume. A FEW archaic articles HAVE been dropped and if you want them then you need an early edition (anything prior to and including a 15th Edition is pretty old).

What you REALLY want is ANY copy of Machinery's that is selling for $25 or less. Be sure its the Handbook not the guide to the handbook. Just as ANY real anvil is better than no anvil, ANY copy of machinery's is better than no copy. AND everyone should have one.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/26/03 00:30:20 GMT

guru, didn't we once figure out that after the 18th edition they no longer had the articles about power hammer set up, forge set up, and tong dimensions?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/26/03 00:34:07 GMT

Rope look legs,
Why not take 3 lengths of round and twist them together like rope?
   - JimG - Wednesday, 03/26/03 01:03:12 GMT

Bridge anvil: found a picture of a bridge anvil and, well, it looks like a bridge. Flat top with an arch underneath, no horn or overhang, square footings at each end, no hardy or pritchel holes. Looks like it was made for some sort of workpiece that was bifurcated, like a big meat fork. I could not find any drilling tools that would require the use of such an anvil. Even fishtail bits would not really fit over/under the bridged top. Back to you Guru!
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/26/03 01:05:54 GMT

Guru: I recently acquired a tool that looks like a very large tin snip. It is about 3 feet long and at one end of the rein is bent and shaped to fit a hardy hole. It will cut 16 guage flat steel in a straight line. What is this and what was it used for?

Don Agostine
   Don Agostine - Wednesday, 03/26/03 01:22:03 GMT


try this for a site for Larry Zoeller:


His email address is there, also.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/26/03 01:33:52 GMT


That thing is a bench shear of the old type. I have one that I use from time to time. Over the course of the years, I've cut stuff with it that was thick enough I had to use a small (8#) sledge to persuade the top handle. Still works just fine.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/26/03 01:41:06 GMT

I have been trying to obtain information on salt baths, how to make the pots and the salts required to do salt baths. Is there any place that will sell salts to knive makers?
   dtheiner - Wednesday, 03/26/03 02:23:45 GMT

Bridge Anvil: (arched)

Postman lists the Trenton "Bridge Anvils" as a "Railroad Anvil".

Just thought I'd give ya'll more to ponder.... ;-)

Do like the quote: "The smaller 650-pound Indian Chief railroad anvil..." (650# is SMALL!?!?)
   Zero - Wednesday, 03/26/03 02:34:51 GMT

salt baths
this site has info on the makeing of and useing of salt baths. if you still can't find the salt you might want to drop him and email.
   MP - Wednesday, 03/26/03 02:43:46 GMT

hello guru,
i am wondering about copper and the ability to forge it. i am a glassblower and copper is the only metal that is compatible with glass, it has the same COE. i want to know if i can heat weld it like steel, folding it on itself like a samuri sword. i have little expireance blacksmithing and would like to know more. casting copper is also an intrestand if you have any suggestions please let me know.
thank you for your expertice
   spooner - Wednesday, 03/26/03 02:51:08 GMT

Quenchcrack, From what I can gather, the bridge anvil is used in the oil patch on the ground near the drilling site. It's probably easier to pack, haul, and put in place than if it were a solid anvil. The cable tool "bit" goes on top at a slight angle, no bifurcations involved.

Spooner, the welded copper and its alloys need to be handled with cleanliness and tender loving care. Put your search engines on *mokume gane*, and that should answer some of your questions.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/26/03 04:17:32 GMT

Bridge Anvil: Saw a 1000 pounder go on E-bay about 2 or 3 months ago for around $2400.
   Kent - Wednesday, 03/26/03 05:35:19 GMT

Large Tin Snip: Don, Its an old style bench shear. The tang is anchored in a hole in a bench and I have seen them anchored in anvil stumps in images of old armouries. This was the type of stump that was set deep into the Earth and was quite solid. They were made in the 1500's or earlier in almost the exact pattern as modern ones. I know they were sold in the 1950's but I'm not sure if they are still made. I suspect they are made for sale in primitive places.

I do not recommend using it in a hardy hole as the leverage is the type of thing that results in breaking heals on anvils.

I have a big pair like yours. Over three feet I think.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/26/03 05:38:12 GMT

I had one of the bench shears that you're referring to, but never had occasion to use it. I thought it was kinda cumbersome, myself. Mine was made by Pexto, I believe. They're a tinknocker supply house. They also make a bench platen with holes in it to accept the handles of the shear, as well as numerous other tinner's stakes. The pair I had looked pretty much the same as most of them, except they were made with a compound linkage to the jaws, so you could operate them with a 3 foot pipe instead of a 6 footer. (grin) Took them to Quad-State about 3 years ago and let Paul Moffat from The Indiana club fall in love with them.
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 03/26/03 08:04:02 GMT

Salt baths: Just a word of caution on salt baths. The salts are very dangerous and may give off toxic fumes. The EPA usually requires that Heat Treaters using salt baths have considerable fume systems that capture and clean the effluent. This is not usually considered Hobby Territory. You may want to consider a fluidized bed furnace in place of the salt bath. It is not as effective at heat transfer but a lot safer.
   - Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/26/03 13:15:27 GMT

I thought the idea of putting the bench shear on a bench or table was to prevent torque on the sheet being cut.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/26/03 13:25:26 GMT

Bench Shears: Frank, I have seen them setup that way in modern shops but historical imagery often shows them on the end of the bench and in several cases on anvil stumps next to the anvil. This was long before hardie holes in anvils.

In the Rubens and Brueghel painting "The Return from War: Mars Disarmed by Venus" 1610-1612 that we looked at for an art student (July 1 - 8, 2002 Guru's Den archive). There is a large stump with anvil and a socket on the side supporting a pair of these shears. An artistic representation is not proof positive that this was typical usage but this is hardly one of those things that would be invented by the artists.

In ingraving on our Armoury page, The anvil bench of 16th century armourer Conrad Seusenhofer, there is a similar arrangement. In this case the shears have the tang bent so that they are up at an angle but a stump is the anchorage point again. I do not remember arrangements of small shears in Diderots but gigantic shears are shown mounted vertically and also in an embedded stump.

And as many historical things are determined by singular examples these few is all we have from this early date.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/26/03 15:39:50 GMT

Machinery Handbook: Thanks Guru & PawPaw. Yes I too recall your saying 17th ed. or earlier. I searched at www.abebooks.com and found plenty of pre-1960 editions for less than $20

Bench shears. One would imagine these appeared about the same time as scissors? The only real difference being the scale.
   adam - Wednesday, 03/26/03 16:03:30 GMT

Copper: Spooner, As Frank pointed out the process you are looking for is called "mokume' gane'". That is Japanese for "wood grained". The process was invented to make Damascus like furniture for blades and guns using non-ferrous metals. The process is now an art form used to make hollow vessles and sculpture as well as in high art bladesmithing.

Copper, brass, silver and other metals are laminated then manipulated to produce patterns in the layers. The lamination is done in a kiln or furnace. The stack of clean plates is clamped between steel plates then heated to the fusing temperature of the lowest melting point alloy in the stack. The stack is then cut to expose layers and then forged or rolled flat (or into bar).

Pattern development is done by cutting grooves, shallow holes and such into the stack before rolling it out. The exposed layers then become the surface of the metal. In the process of steel lamination pieces are often worked by similar methods or twisting and then relaminated. I do not know if this is done in mokume gane but I am sure it would work similarly if properly planned. The key difference is that the steel is forge welded where the mokume gane must be furnace brazed or silver soldered.

Copper is very forgable and cold works well as does most brass and bronze. Mokume' gane' is also workable but the lowest temperature alloy must be taken into consideration when heating. The mixture is much stiffer than the copper and care must be taken in working the mixture.

Simplified versions of mokume' gane' have been produced by artists applying brass to copper by brazing then rolling or hammering the sheet into consistant thickness. This is possible because the copper has a higher melting point than the copper alloy (brass). Heavy copper wire could be used in a similar process to make a copper/brass bar.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/26/03 16:20:08 GMT

Hi Guru. Talking about 5160 steel, I understand that it should be tempered between 800 to 1300F, however I do not know the right temperature to get a specific hardness. Can you help me with that?. Thank in advance.
   Bernardo Navarro - Wednesday, 03/26/03 18:03:00 GMT

concerning coke again- The guy I get my coal from tells me it is Bitmus Soft Coal, or Western Coal. Is that good for making coke??

   - maxslv1 - Wednesday, 03/26/03 18:33:40 GMT

Coke Jon, coal varies in quality from peat to hard anthracite in infinite variety. Although there is some OK Western coal most of it is pretty bad. The best forging coal comes from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Generally you want the standard laboratory analysis of the coal and then you can compare that to coals of known ranking.

The U.S. is a coal rich nation. We export the best of it to Japan and Europe as fast as we can dig it out of the ground (a VERY bad economic action). But because it is almost no longer used for domestic heating it is very hard to obtain in many places. Its commercial use is even shunned in parts of the major coal producing states even though large segments of those states still use it for domestic heating.

Greed and political neglect have almost killed our steel industry. Selling off all our coal reserves will finish it off. You cannot make steel without coal. You cannot be a technologicaly advanced society without steel. Selling our coal reserves is selling our future.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/26/03 19:08:10 GMT

Max, ask him for a bushel of it to try out. It ought to work. Bituminous is what we use, mostly.
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 03/26/03 19:29:16 GMT

Jock, how good is the stuff in UT that Clinton sold to the Indonesians for a campaign "donation"?
   - 3dogs - Wednesday, 03/26/03 19:31:48 GMT

5160: Bernardo the right tempering temperature depends on the application. What are you using 5160 for?

Anvil Stand: I am thinking of makin a steel stand for my anvil - perhaps a tripod with two legs under the horn one under the hardy. Is it possible to make a steel structure that wont be annoyingly bouncy and that wont let the anvil ring too much? This is a 350# HayBudden. I have a LARGE supply of scrap structural steel. Currently I have a concrete base which I poured. Its okay but I am not entirely satisfied.
   Adam Whiteson - Wednesday, 03/26/03 20:22:44 GMT

Adam Whiteson,

I have a steel stand under my Fisher(which weighs barely under 300lbs). I thought about an open frame base but decided that it would be better to transfer the forces down to the floor directly under the body of the anvil. I needed at the time to be able to move the anvil around so I started with a 3/4" thick steel plate about 12" by 30" as the base. to the plate I welded 1/4" by 1" flat bent into L shapes at each corner allowing about 1/4" clearance for a hand truck under the plate. Two 5" by 5" by 1/4" tubes separated by a 2" by 4" tube run vertically up to another 3/4" plate which is the size of my anvil's base. The vertical tubes are all welded to each other and the base plate. Four squares of 1/4" flat are welded to the base plate and the vertical tubes so that they splay out to the base plate corners from the four outer corners of the tubes. Before I welded the top plate onto the vertical tubes I filled each one with the drained chips from my cold saw to add weight and act as a little bit of damping. If you make one similar to this be sure to allow for at least one layer of 3/4" playwood between the anvil and the top plate at the lowest height you would want the anvil. In my case the Fisher has mounting lugs so I was able to bolt it down to the stand; with your Hay Budden you may want to plan for holes between the feet for a hold down bar.

This thing does not bounce around at all and yet I can easily move it around with a hand truck when neccesary. I have sometimes needed to shove a shim under one of the feet but in its normal home it sits just fine.

I'm sure that there are lots of other suggestions out there including the section on anvil stands here on this site.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 03/26/03 22:36:44 GMT


I welded a tripod stand for your old Trenton out of 3" square tube, 1/4" wall, using 1/8" 2x2 angle for the anvil tray with extra support from two 2x2 1/8" wall tubes underneath.

Set it on two layers of roofing shingles, and an old magnetic indicator base under the heel. She just goes: THUNK! (remove the magnet for the times you want a sleight ring).

I'll gladly post pics on the Yahoo site if you'd like. And don't forget you owe me a street number to ship old #108 to!
   Zero - Wednesday, 03/26/03 22:44:12 GMT

adam, sorry if i didnt answer your question; i am far from guru status. question for you: how do you "tenon in 3ft"? i am trying to picture these trivets that you are describing.

alpha guru, power hammer would be most desirable; the fly press is much more practical for my needs currently.
   - rugg - Thursday, 03/27/03 00:09:26 GMT

Hey, all - Almost done with my forge, and it occurs to me that I need a good anvil. I've been looking at anvils online, hunting for something in the 15-75# range (looking at 25# and 55# anvils, principally), but I'm having trouble finding anything besides what appear to be ASOs. I'm getting to the point of considering buying one of the Russian cast steel "anvils" on eBay, since I read on this site that they're not _too_ bad. Anyway, any suggestions on where I can find a good anvil in that weight range? Thanks.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 03/27/03 00:11:54 GMT

SGensh - thanks for your very complete description. Took a couple of readings but I have the picture. Sounds SOLID. I could fill the tubes with sand.

Jim THUNK is what I am after :). That Trenton rang like a bell when it was in my shop. Pics on Yahoo would be a big help if its not too much bother. Thanks
   adam - Thursday, 03/27/03 00:17:16 GMT

mr gold, i have a peter wright, #100. the face has been replaced. if you want to know more, provide your e-mail.

recipes in iron I and II: looking for these books! no luck through the usual channels/ AF advertisers. have one and want to get rid of it??
   - rugg - Thursday, 03/27/03 00:33:07 GMT

Rugg: I really need to get a digital camera :). I start with a flat bar about 14" long. I incise the grooves, taper the ends and then continue the grooves out into the tapers. Then I punch three holes along the center line for the feet spaced so that they will be about equidistant when the bar is bent into a ring. Bend the bar into a circle the "hard way" so that the tapered ends overlap. Curl one taper into the circle and one taper outwards. Could have made a welded ring but this is pretty too. To make a foot I took a 1/2" round bar, formed a tenon on the end to fit the punched holes and then cut it off from the parent stock so that there was about 3/4" of material left past the shoulder of the tenon. Gripping the tenon with the tongs I fullered a shallow neck and then forged the end into a ball so that now I had a little ball foot with a shoulder and a tenon. Three such feet are fitted into the ring and the tenons peened hot to make rivet heads. Not quite a thousand words but certainly more than you wanted. I could go on....

If that doesnt work for you, I could post a sketch to Yahoo. Hey mebbe I should do an iForge demo? lol
   adam - Thursday, 03/27/03 00:37:48 GMT

Russian anvils and eBay: Many of the anvils on eBay ARE NOT what they are represented as. There are numerous dealers on eBay selling cast iron Chinese ASO's as steel. Forget getting your money back. Most charge more for shipping than for the anvil and DO NOT refund shipping. If you want to spend your life in court getting safisfaction from a thief than its YOUR life. . . The Russian anvil we reviewed was marginal. Any less quality would be an ASO and there are many to be had.

NEW Anvils: There are LOTS of first class anvils to be had NEW. Three of our advertisers sell Peddinghaus. Pieh Tool also has Vaughans (English cast steel) in stock and will be selling Mankels. Nimba is a past advertiser and is listed on our advertisers list. Then there is Texas Farrier supply. They make a small double horned anvil with most of the mass in the upper body. It is often called "the biggest little anvil" made.

Anvil Stands We have a long iForge demo on anvil stands and cover all common types. I personaly do not like metal stands. I just replaced the steel stand my 300# Kohlwsa came on with a wooden stand (much improved) and I am getting ready to build another one tomarrow.

If I were to use something other than my wooden box stands I would go with the sand filled type. They are heavy, soild, adjustable and reduce ring.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 00:55:21 GMT


You most certainly SHOULD do an iForge demo! And I say that in all seriousness.

Jock's got enough on his plate without trying to do all the demo's. Contributing them to the page is one way ANYONE can help out.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/27/03 01:00:55 GMT

Regarding heat and the anvil (ref my post 03/24/03). If I understand your recomendation I should look for a larger anvil if I want to do more heavy gauge work. I believe my anvil has a hardened steel face but a forged body. I take it that this design would not react well to being quenched. Am I correct in my assumptions or did I miss the mark?
Thanks again.
   Will - Thursday, 03/27/03 02:04:32 GMT

I just read some of the posts about the anvil stands. I found a happy medium between a metal stand and wooden ones of the different styles. I made mine using angle iron for the legs and base with a wooden block to mount the anvil on. Previously I had used stumps and these though easy to come by and simple to make were clumsy to use. I'm very satisfied with the noise level and resiliance of my "hybred" stand. Please note that I have a fairly light anvil of 75lbs. I can submit a sketch if anyone would like to see the design.
   Will - Thursday, 03/27/03 02:13:55 GMT

I may get in trouble for this, but I'd say to submit the sketch, with a short description. What the guru is trying to do with the iForge demo is show as many different types and styles of stand as possible so folks can pick and choose.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/27/03 02:22:18 GMT

Cooling Anvils: Will, the heat that will make an anvil uncomfortable to touch but not burn flesh is too little to cause any thermal shock. But if you let the heat build up from repeated applications of a large hot block you MAY reach the tempering point and soften the anvil. You are better off to ocassionaly cool the anvil than to overheat it.

Besides the heat-sink issue if you are going to do heavy work you NEED a heavy anvil. When you start swinging a heavy sledge at a small anvil you are very likely to damage it. The hundreds of anvils with heavily chipped edges or broken horns and heals didn't get that way from a normal hand hammer.

There is also the matter of anvil efficiency. The normal ratio for modern work is 50 or 100 to one (hammer to anvil). The normal smithing hammer is about 3 pounds. When used on a 150 pound anvil that is a 50:1 ratio. At 50:1 the hammer easily moves the anvil around. The "normal" recommended weight for a general shop anvil is 200 pounds or more. This bumps the ratio up to 66:1 for a 3 pound hammer and keeps that 50:1 for a 4 pound hammer. 6 and 8 pound sledges are the norm and reduce the ratio to 25:1 in each case. But sledges at this ratio should only be used on the center of the anvil. However, if using a sledge is common in your shop then a 200 pound anvil may be too light. How do you think all those old sway backed anvils got that way? Heavy sledges on too small an anvil too many times. . .

The old steel faced wrought anvils are still probably the best but they are more likely to end up sway backed from using a sledge on them. The late solid steel anvils rarely get sway backed as the entire upper body is as stiff as the face is hard.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 03:51:59 GMT

My name is Jack Kerrigan and i was wondering if u could answer the following questions about Blacksmithing -

* Does Blacksmithing effect the environment?
* Can Blacksmithing Be replaced?
* What benefits are there from Blacksmithing?

Thankyou, JACK.
   Jack - Thursday, 03/27/03 04:03:02 GMT

my name is Justin Schahinger I was just wondering if u could answer the following questions about Blacksmithing-

*What is Blacksmithing used for?

   - Jutsin - Thursday, 03/27/03 04:18:26 GMT

Hello all I find my self in possession of a foot or two of titanium spring stock .500 dia. What color do I look for best forgeing red,yellow,spakling? And what is it good for Tongs? is it safe around food forks,spoons. Dont have a real plan just want to try the off beat. Thanks for any input/warnings.
   Rob.F - Thursday, 03/27/03 05:23:06 GMT

I'm doing some research in order to make some fittings for a reproduction English cottage. Does anyone have any idea when the Suffolk latch came about? Or more to the point....would these type of latches been found in 16th century English architecture? I've been able to uncover a lot of info on this type of latch....everything but the dates of origin. Thanks, Chris W.
   Chris - Thursday, 03/27/03 07:00:23 GMT

how do you get the carbon in to the iron to make it steel.
   - nathan - Thursday, 03/27/03 08:24:47 GMT

Nathan; Take a look at http://www.matter.org.uk/steelmatter/steelmaking/default.htm They'll pretty much take you through the whole process. Best regards, 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Thursday, 03/27/03 09:09:43 GMT

According to the Bethlehem book "Modern Steels" the following are APPROXIMATE Rockwell C hardnesses of oil quenched 5160 for various tempering temperatures:


Use a temper color chart to get close to the hardness you require.
   - Quenchcrack - Thursday, 03/27/03 13:21:32 GMT

Chris, Iron for the English cottage...the earliest I could find are depicted in "An Anatomy of English Wrought Iron" by J. Seymour Lindsay, Taplinger, New York, 1965. Three latches are shown from the 17th Century on Plates 79, 80, and 81. What we call Suffolk, the author calls Norfolk type. Two of the latches are from Bolsover Castle, which information leads me to go out on a limb, and state that I have a *feeling* that some of the cottage latches from the 16th Century would have been made of wood. Iron was fairly dear at that time, and it wouldn't take much to construct a wooden latch bar with latch string and catch, whence comes the expression, "Come on over neighbor; the latch string is always out".
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/27/03 14:00:44 GMT

Chris; I have a "survey" book on house fittings from that time period as well as another with ironwork from the 1500's.

I'll get the cites tonight and you can ILL them through your local library.

Thomas Powers
   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/27/03 14:04:56 GMT

Jack and Justin, I'll answer briefly but we do not do homework for students.

Blacksmiths heat steel to a yellow heat and shape it into tools, utilitarian articles and fine art. To do this they use hammer, anvil as well as every known machine tool. If you use tools make of metal you are using the product of a blacksmith OR a machine made possible by a blacksmith.

Environment - Blacksmithing uses hydrocarbon fuels, charcoal, coal, propane, methane in relatively small quantities. You can make your own decisions about how it effects the environment. Other than noise from hammering and the obligatory scrap piles blacksmithing is a benign trade. The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Replace Blacksmithing? NO. Hand forging has largely been replaced by machine forging but industry still relies on blacksmiths to run large forging machines to do "open die forging". Many items (tools as well as decorative work) are still made by hand or with the assistance of machines. When the smith manipulates the hot steel and tools under power hammer dies by hand it is still called "hand forging".

Benefits? ALL industry and technology beyond the stone age are based on the forging of metals. Without iron and forged steel there can be no steam power, great ships, railroads, air or space craft. Large scale agriculture has always depended on the blacksmith. Even medicine relies on the technological devices posible via forging steel.

A quote from our 21st Century page:
From the iron age to the space age, the blacksmith did it."

When the first blacksmith began hammering on a hot piece of iron little did he know how he was shaping the future. He forged the tools that made the machines that produce everything mankind has today. The blacksmith was the pioneer of the technology that carried mankind from the iron age to the space age. It can truly be said that the first rocket to the moon was virtually launched from the face of the anvil.
The Old Striker
Bill Miller
   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 15:33:11 GMT

Hi I am looking for a book on metalwork written by a professor at MIT. I think the book was called "The Anvil's Song". I cannot find any trace of this on the web so it could be wrong. I do not remember the authors name but he preferred to work in an Indian teepee. The book was very informative and started with basic tool making. A good second hand copy would be preferred.
   John Walton - Thursday, 03/27/03 15:38:42 GMT

adam, iFORGE demo or drawings will make it more clear. i thought 3ft was 36"; feet for the trivet it turns out. are you using a cone mandrel to form "the hard way"? i need to get a dig cam too.

recipes in iron I: looking for it
" " " II: read that it was published, true?

alpha guru: garden gate frame; what is your preference of material? i am thinkin 3/8"X1" bar, "axial" pivet on a ball bearing to handle the load.

thanks to all....
   - rugg - Thursday, 03/27/03 15:51:48 GMT

It could be Jack Andrews, he's written a book called "Edge of the Anvil" ISBN 0-87857-186-8 or 0-87857-195-7 pbk and has a smithy set up in a teepee. He also has a revised edition called "New edge of the Anvil"
Check out the book review section here, I think it's there
   - JimG - Thursday, 03/27/03 16:15:49 GMT

Book with Smithy in Teepee That would be NEW Edge of the Anvil by Jack Andrews. Click this link or see our book review page. Its one of the books on my Getting Started list.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 16:15:57 GMT

Garden Gate Frame Size: Rugg, it depends on where it is going. Often the weight of the ironwork is a matter of scale. The last garden gate I designed was going in a field stone wall that was two feet thick. The frame was made of 1" (25mm) square stock with 3/4" (18mm) pickets. Joinery was mortise and tennon. Gate included roses and rose leaves and had an overhead trellis for roses.

I didn't get a chance to make the gate. The client took my drawings to a fabricator. . . who I am sure did not make it with the details. Since then clients do not get copies of drawings until the design is paid for.

Would have been a nice job.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 16:26:35 GMT

Folks if you have not joined CSI then shame on you. I just renewed my membership. I joined as soon as CSI was created. This is supposed to be the source of income for the Guru so that continue to facilitate anvilfire.
   Ralph - Thursday, 03/27/03 18:44:11 GMT

Making Punches.
I have attempted to make small round punches and had no luck. Any tips you guys might pass on or should I just order some?
   Jacob Langthorn - Thursday, 03/27/03 19:03:18 GMT

Jacob: What diameter punch are you making and what steel are you using? How are your punches failing?
   adam - Thursday, 03/27/03 19:50:53 GMT


You can check ABEBooks for a copy of NEW EDGE OF THE ANVIL, but good luck. Smith's that get that one RARELY let go of it. And before you ask, No, mine's not for sale! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/27/03 20:57:23 GMT

Rugg: no - I am bending them over the horn. I am still looking for a cone. But these dont have to be perfectly round - just a smooth, pleasing curve.
   adam - Thursday, 03/27/03 21:08:57 GMT

I am trying to make 1/4 inch punches. I am using sucker rod and they keep folding over as I am using them. The other issue I have is I am not sure if I am forming the tip correctly. should the tip be flat or pointed?
   Jacob Langthorn - Thursday, 03/27/03 21:23:19 GMT

Jacob, Until one of the Guru's can answer here's my 2c. I havent used sucker rod but I believe its a medium carbon steel designed for toughness and not really suitable for hot punches and hot chisels. Try making them out of coil spring and yes grind the ends flat. Also, dont let the punch get too hot. Chill it by dipping in grease or something every two or three hammer licks.

If you can get some S7 or H13 steel these steels make terrific hot work tools.
   adam - Thursday, 03/27/03 21:47:49 GMT

PS Check out the iForge demos 63 & 64 which are about punching.
   adam - Thursday, 03/27/03 21:49:20 GMT

Dea Gruru, My dad and I were reading Blade magszine and we saw some really grate looking patterns on the sides of some knives. They say that they are damascus blades. I was wondering how they are made, what makes them damascas and how hard are they to make for beginners? Thanks
   Matt - Thursday, 03/27/03 22:04:21 GMT

Sucker Rod Adam, you are right. It is not a tool steel. In fact the early stuff was wrought iron!

For hot punching you want a high carbon steel at the minimum (SAE 1095). But most alloy tool steels are much better as they do not temper and soften as easily as plain carbon steels do. I've made punches from big old Allen hex wrenches and from spring steel. Most of my punches are common mechanics punches and drifts that have been reworked. The one we used to punch that 1/4" hole was a 12" long pin punch. IF you want to get fancy then ask for S7 or H13 tool steel. A favorite among some smiths is the high alloy Atlantic 33 non-tempering steel.

Punches for hot punching have a flat front. They last longer if they have a slight radius on the corners. Lubrication also helps. A little "axel" grease both cools and lubricates the punch. Some smiths use a little coal dust in the hole. We punched a 1/4" hole through 3/4" bar the other day and it went slick as could be with a little grease. See our iForge demo on punching.

With proper technique it is possible to punch holes in mild steel with a mild steel punch. But good tool steel is much better. Technique, working quickly, keeping the punch cool, is key in all cases.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 22:10:08 GMT

Thanks for the info. I am now on a quest for tool steel. I am thinking about getting some cold punches for the moment and just abusing them.
   Jacob Langthorn - Thursday, 03/27/03 22:15:46 GMT

Damascus Steel Matt, The proper term for the modern product is laminated steel. True Damascus was a special steel (sometimes called wootz in India) made from cast iron in crucibles by a decarburation process.

Laminated steel is made by forge welding layers of two or more different steels. The layered pieces are cut and forge welded again and again until a very fine layering is achieved. In some cases this laminated steel is used as-is. But generally it is worked further to produce specific patterns.

One method is to forge two square lamiated steel billets, then twist them, then square them up, then weld them together. This billet is then drawn out (forged thin) and items made out of it. The finished item is often ground to shape.

When it is finished it is etched with acid to bring out the pattern. Normally the two steels selected include a plain carbon steel and the other a nickle alloy. When etched the nickle alloy resists the etch and stays bright while the carbon steel turns black.

Other methods of creating patterns include carving grooves in the billet and then forging it flat or drilling holes part way through and then forging flat. There are many standard patterns that are produced. Most often once the billet is produced knives are made by the stock removal (grinding) method. Stock removal is used so that the pattern produced in the billet is not changed AND to bring out the pattern deep in the billet.

In high art laminated steel making there is a process known as "mosaic Damascus". This is used to create symbols, letters, words and such in the laminations of the steel.
Some of the finest examples of this work can be found on Daryl Meier's web site. Click on "THE GURUS" at the top of this page and them "Meier Steel". See "favorite moments".

It is not a beginner's bladesmithing project. It requires a good forge, forge welding cabability and a STRONG arm if you do not have a power hammer or a rolling mill. See our book review page for books on the subject. There is an illustration in the review of "Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork" that will help you understand the process. There are also reviews of a book and a video by Jim Hrisoulas. AND there is a review for plans to build a rolling mill that is THE slick tool for making laminated steel.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/27/03 22:30:25 GMT

New Edge of the Anvil is available from Amazon (although I do loathe to use them). I suspect it is elsewhere. Oddly enough I couldn't find it in Barnes and Noble, but their used and out of print listing did have 3 copies of the older (and a lot more expensive) Edge of the Anvil.

   Escher - Thursday, 03/27/03 23:09:46 GMT

i was wanting to weld the face of an anvil to build it up ,someone told me there is a new welding rod out that will not leave the face a different color than the rest of the anvil . Do you know the name or indentification # of this rod ?
   forgeman - Friday, 03/28/03 00:04:57 GMT

guru, that material is way heavy duty for my needs. was thinking of using 3/8"X1" for the frame and 3/8" square for the verticles and scrolls.
   rugg - Friday, 03/28/03 00:37:11 GMT

The current issue of the Hammer's Blow has an ad for Skipjack Press which lists "New Edge of the Anvil" at $25.00. The phone number is 800-247-6553 or web site at www.bookmasters.com/skipjack/
   SGensh - Friday, 03/28/03 00:37:20 GMT


And for instructional purposes, the NEW EDGE OF THE ANVIL is a far better book, IMNSHO. And I've read both.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/28/03 00:41:57 GMT

can you find me information on how to turn an old coal furnce into a wood burner?
   chana - Friday, 03/28/03 04:26:29 GMT

Furnace Conversion: Chana, if the coal furnace is an old hand fed furnace then all you need to do is change your fuel to wood. If it has a thermostatic control the damper may need to be adjusted so that it is not open as much (wood burns faster than coal). If the furnace is an automatic stoker type then you simply remove the stoker (or just work around it) and feed the furnace wood.

It was very common to heat with wood using a coal furnace when you were out of coal.
   - guru - Friday, 03/28/03 05:14:06 GMT

I am very inexperienced, and don't have much equipment. I am practicing forge welds, and wondered if there is an easy way to roughly test the strength of the weld without completely distorting the piece in the process. I am a fairly small person, so please don't suggest anything that requires too much physical strength.
I would like to say that this site as well as iforge have been invaluable to me. I am amazed at the knowledge and ingenuity displayed.
Thank you
   KayeC - Friday, 03/28/03 11:56:57 GMT

Chris; I don't know if these books have exactly what you are looking for but they would be a place to start looking:

"Fixtures and Fittings in Dated Houses 1567-1763" Drawings by Linda Hall, text by N.W.Alcock & Linda Hall; Practical Handbook in Archeology #11 isbn 1-872414 52 4

"Antique Iron, A survey of English and American Forms, 15th-19th Century" by Herbert, Peter & Nancy Schiffer

A bit of a long shot might be: D'Allemagne, Henry Rene
"Decorative Antique Ironwork a Pictorial Treasury All the Plates from the 1924 French Catalogue of the Le Secq Des Tournelles Museum of Rouen (these tend toward the more ornate and the dating is a bit more suspect)


   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/28/03 14:08:43 GMT

Weld Testing: Kaye, There are four ways to test welds, visual inspection, destructive testing, radiographic testing and ultrasonic. The only one that actually tests the quality of the weld and the capability of the weldor is destructive testing.

Welds of all types are destructive tested in similar ways. They are bent at the weld to test for seperations, cracking and penetration. They are also pulled apart in a tensile tester. This is the most common standardized test. A sample weld is made in bar stock 1/8" x 1" wide at the test point with larger tabs on the ends. This is a "test coupon". Then a hydraulic cylinder is used to pull the sample in two. The amount of pressure is read on a gauge in pounds or kilograms and then converted to PSI or km2 mathematically based on the cross section of the test sample. Arc welds are tested by this method and in the era of forge welds similar destructive testing was done.

The methods of non-destructive testing (NDT) are very technical, expensive and often not very reliable. X-rays and ultrasonic testing are combined in nuclear pipe weld testing and will show many defects but also miss many. But usualy if you have cracks or inclusions in this case they are going to be cut out and repaired then the weld zone inspected again.

Visual inspection can tell you a lot about a weld if it has not be finished by grinding and filing. Any time I see welds that are not required to be ground smooth that have been ground I am suspicious of what they looked liked before grinding. On structurals our shop had a policy of "no ground welds" to prevent hiding bad welding. Visual inspection of arc welds often tells a lot about a weld from its shape, porosity, undercutting. Visual inspection of forge welds only tells you how well the edges were welded and dressed and perhaps how well the weld preparations were made. This IS important but does not tell you if a high percentage of the weld zone is slag filled and not joined. Good welding practice prevents this but only expensive x-ray or destructive testing can tell for sure.

Forge welded chain was tested by inspectors hammering each weld to see if the edges raised or if they sounded hollow. Then selected samples were destructive tested by pulling the chain apart. The combination is not fool proof but it was the best testing available and affordable at the time.
   - guru - Friday, 03/28/03 15:20:38 GMT

SGensh - Ok you have just given me anvil envy. The #350 didn't do it cause I like my hearing (what's left of it from shooting since I was 7) A #300 Fisher? drool... I'm working on a #125 fisher.

Mr. Gold, what part of the country are you in? I have a 60# in FL that's got great rebound but very rounded corners, depends on what you'd be using it for.

You may wish to check to see if there are any ABANA chapter meetings in your area. I HIGHLY suggest you don't buy an anvil unless and until you've had the chance to bounce an anvil on them.
   Monica - Friday, 03/28/03 17:27:55 GMT

Monica, I just wanna watch him bounce the anvil. (SMIRK) 3dogs
   - 3dogs - Friday, 03/28/03 17:34:07 GMT

More smartassery: If he can dribble it and do layup shots with it, I want this guy for a striker!
   - 3dogs - Friday, 03/28/03 17:41:39 GMT

Monica, I picked up (well bought) a 515# Fisher for $350 in mint condition by just talking to folk about wanting an anvil---the guy at the fleamarket was selling oily car parts, speakers, etc; but he said howdy so I gave him the spiel and his uncle had an anvil and wanted to sell it!

that evening we loaded it with an engine hoist...

Thomas (don't ask my friends about moving it into the shop...)
   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/28/03 18:11:12 GMT

Anvil ring...

Since Monica mentioned her hearing I thought I'd chime (pun) in. My theory could be all wet, but the application gives the desired result.

I use a magnet under the heal (or horn) of my anvils to kill the ring. The magnet is the base from a magnetic indicator stand, that can be turned on/off, and weighs about 2.2 pounds. This is easy to remove when needed, easy to clean, and totally kills the ring.

As an example: My coal forge is outside, so I have to move an anvil out if I want to use it. I was in a hurry one day so I put my 100 pounder on a sheet metal chair with casters and wheeled it out. You want to talk about RING! Stuck the magnet on and nothing but THUNK -- BTW, forging on a wheeled anvil is, well... Interesting.

I don't like to clamp my anvils down, because of the need to move them frequently. So when I built my new steel tripod stand for the 148# Trenton I did some testing.

I found the fiberglass/asphalt roofing shingles very easily leveled the anvil, and deadened the ring quite a bit. I held a sound meter about 12" from the anvil, and let a 2# hammer fall about 6" to the center of the face. The readings averaged 84 db with a noticeable ring to the anvil.

I applied my magnet and did the same test. I got 84 db with no ring whatsoever. Ah! I say... It must be a frequency thing. I plan to do more serious testing this weekend, as well as a bit of study on frequency and its effect on hearing -- like I said, my theory could be all wet.

Magnetic indicator bases can be had from McMaster-Carr, MSC, Airgas and probably Harbor Freight. Pix of my anvil stand have been posted to Yahoo as well if anyone is interested.
   Zero - Friday, 03/28/03 18:47:48 GMT


I also have an anvil on a wood stand, it tested out almost exactly the same as the anvil on the steel stand. Again: More testing and I'll be back with better data.
   Zero - Friday, 03/28/03 18:55:47 GMT


OK now Thomas is making me envious!

Seems like a lot of people wouldn't touch a Fisher because they don't ring. That's one of the things I like about it. You hit the iron and it hands you back the hammer without making a fuss about it. I bought mine from in a little book and junk shop from a guy who had tried a little blacksmithing but didn't want to keep at it. He said I was about the tenth person to look at it but everybody else told him it was junk- no ring. I had to give him $200 for the anvil, a couple of hardie tools, and about 20 assorted pair of tongs! I thought I was just buying the anvil. Like thomas said it never hurts to let people know what you are looking for. A friend of mine (not a blacksmith obviously) told me about this one.

Thomas, I don't suppose you'd like to make a small profit on yours? No- well its worth a try! BG
   SGensh - Friday, 03/28/03 19:16:10 GMT


I have just been given 5 pieces of S5 in 1/2" round. What is S5 good for? I have seen comments that S7 makes great hotwork tools, but I am not sure how different S5 would be.


   Jim - Friday, 03/28/03 19:26:26 GMT

Anvil Stands: thanks to everyone for tips about anvil stands. I am going to build one out of steel. I do my best to keep plastic, wood and magnets away from the anvil area. I used to have a wooden stand and I kept dropping hot metal on it. Charred wood looks like ... well you know. Burned plastic - nuff said. Magnets turn into fuzzballs of scale and grinding swarf and covering them with plastic - see above :)
   adam - Friday, 03/28/03 20:08:00 GMT

Quenchcrack - Would you mind if I copied your info on 5160 and posted it on another forum that uses that alloy a lot? I'd cite you and anvilfire, of course.
   - Stormcrow - Friday, 03/28/03 20:17:58 GMT

Jim, S5 is a silicon-manganese steel that may not hold up as well in hot work as S7, but it is good steel. Forge at 1850-2050F, not below 1600F. Anneal 1425-1475F; max cooling rate 25F per hour. Harden in OIL 1600-1700F. Temper 350-800F for a Rockwell range of 60-50.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/28/03 20:20:19 GMT

SGensh; naw it's on the bottom of the anvil stack and would be too hard to move ---bwahahahahahahaha

   - Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/28/03 21:50:28 GMT


I just posted pictures of my anvil stands on the Yahoo page in case they would be of any help. I really like to have a little wood between the anvil and the steel- notice the cutaway plywood under my Fisher. No hot scale accumulates on it and I can still use the top level of the stand between the feet as an upsetting plate for bars just a little too long for the anvil top.

Thomas, why did you start the stack with such a little thing? Isn't it hard to balance the big anvils on top?
   SGensh - Friday, 03/28/03 22:43:06 GMT

Stormcrow: Give credit to the Bethlehem book "Modern Steels - Handbook 3310" as it is their information. The book is long out of print and now you can't even download it from the website. They are currently in bankruptcy and their lawyers are probably too busy to come after you, anyway.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 03/28/03 22:51:37 GMT

Ringing Anvils: I bolted my 110# Russian anvil to a 2x6 frame using 1/2" lag bolts run through 2" long pieces of 1" tube. I used 2" heavy washers between the bolt and the tube that extend over the base of the anvil. It makes barely a sound but if you listen closely after striking it, you can definitely hear a song that sounds like "The Volga Boatman"..............maybe not.
   - Quenchcrack - Friday, 03/28/03 22:55:42 GMT

Monica, I'm in Hawaii, but a 60# is only about $30 shipping... If you're interested in selling, email me and we can discuss it, I'm definitely interested.
   T. Gold - Friday, 03/28/03 23:12:30 GMT


Druel X2 Thomas. You are NOT NICE. ;P

Actually, I got my main anvil (125-30# Fisher) at a leather shop. It was holding up a block of wood. Old fashioned shake the hand kind of gentleman runs the place(Delchers here in Jacksonville, FL). I was drooling so badly that he took the downpayment, handed me the anvil, and accepted a verbal I.O.U. Actually, he offered to take the I.O.U since it never occured to me to ask.

The first blacksmith I ever met ended up falling over himself apologizing for being "a sexist pig" (his words) for not realizing the one female in his class was there to learn, not just watch guys get sweaty. Fortunately the second blacksmith was more observent, and his first infomal lesson was on the difference between anvils and ASO's. I found the anvil about 6 weeks later.

   Monica - Friday, 03/28/03 23:21:10 GMT

Rugg, The "Recipes in Iron" is the subtitle of "The Blacksmith's Cookbook" by Francis Whitaker, ed. Jim Fleming, 1986. ISBN # 0-939415-00-3
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/28/03 23:54:52 GMT

Guru, what is the best way to clean a piece of the scale that accumulates during heating??

   Jon Sutter - Saturday, 03/29/03 07:14:10 GMT

Thanks, Quenchcrack.
   - Stormcrow - Saturday, 03/29/03 09:09:37 GMT

Jon, I think most of us use a wire brush. A welders brush is ok but a bigger butcher block brush is better. Home Depot sells these in the paint department. Caution: the plastic ones don't last as long as the wooden ones. Buy a good one with a dense bristle pattern. Harbor Freight sometimes sells Chinese brushes but they are generally less efficient. I often use a wire cup on an electric polisher. Don't put the cup on your side wheel grinder as it spins too fast and will throw wire darts. Brushing between heats keeps the scale to a minimum. I have, on rare occasions, sandblasted down to bright metal and taken one more heat to get a very uniform scale which then is brushed to a high luster. Don't forget to brush the scale off of the anvil face as pounding hot iron on a scale-laden anvil face will leave scale pits on your work.
   Quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/29/03 14:44:53 GMT

Jon, I get more than "a piece of the scale" when I'm working, so I'm assuming you mean an extra-thick grouping of scale which is sometimes complicated by additional, encrusted borax and iron filings. In that case, I sprinkle lightly with borax at a red heat or above and take the work up to orange or lemon and wire brush. Keep wire brushing down to a low cherry. The bright heat is important, or the stuff won't come off.

I'm sure there are other ways of scale removal, hot and at room temp, which we'll be hearing about.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/29/03 14:46:58 GMT

If i wanted to get my own setup to start metalworking what are the basics that i would need and could you point me in the direction of somewhere to purchase this equipment
   leon - Saturday, 03/29/03 19:59:38 GMT

Hey Gurus..... I'm planning on buyng a gas forge and i've seen someone use some type of probe thermometer that could be put inside so they know the temp at all times.... what is the name of such an instrument and where could i find one. Tahnks for your help Gurus
   HammerFall - Saturday, 03/29/03 21:53:29 GMT

HammerFall: That probe is called a "thermocouple", and a LOT of places sell them. Grainger carries a wide selection, if memory serves; otherwise, check http://catalogs.google.com and see if you can find what you're looking for. A thermocouple also needs a monitoring system, as it's just a sensor; monitoring equipment is generally sold in the same area of a catalog as the thermocouples themselves. Hope this is of some help.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 03/29/03 23:25:15 GMT

I am looking for the military lineman's pliers TL-13A with strippers. Who manufactures the TL-13A? Can someone tell me where I can buy one or if someone could make me one. I am in the Army and soon to be deployed to the desert, and it would be nice to take my own pliers to strip wd-1 wire. Thank you.
   Hans - Saturday, 03/29/03 23:42:04 GMT

I know Ive been asking a lot of questions about anvils lately but Im trying to preserve mine as long as I can. When is it wise to have your anvils face resurfaced? My anvil has many small scars and scratches but nothing very deep. These scars do not effect my work but Im thinking that at some point I will need to have the anvil resurfaced.
As always thanks for any help.
   Will - Sunday, 03/30/03 00:05:12 GMT

I have two contacts that may be able to help you out. I do not have their permission to post their phone numbers but if you like I can call them and maybe put you in touch. Drop me an email and I'll see what I can do.
   Will - Sunday, 03/30/03 00:13:03 GMT

frank, thanks for the info; now i need your advise on where i can get a copy (blacksmith's cookbook). i have had a used book store looking for one for several months and they have not found one yet.

also, frank, i have read that a second edition, titled "recipes in iron II" was to be published soon after mr. whitaker's passing. among others, one of the authors was reported to be tal harris. does anyone know anything about this???

question for all: with a hand hammer, who can forge a 3" square taper in 1/2" sq HR, finnished, in two heats. i recently read that this was a goal set for beginning students. i can not do it in two heats for sure...but then again, i am far from guru status....

thanks for the replies/comments
   rugg - Sunday, 03/30/03 01:04:39 GMT


If you mean a square tapered point 3" long, starting with 1/2" square stock, then I can do it, no problem. If you're not able to do it in two heats, there may be several factors involved. Do you start with a good high heat, say near welding heat? Do you work down to a dark red heat? Are you delivering your hammer blows rapidly and accurately? Do you flip the stock 90 every couple of blows? Do you hold the stock at an angle to the face of the anvil, or do you do the first heat drawing on the horn or rounded edge of the anvil? All these things will influence how fast and how well you can draw a point.

I like to do my rapid drawing either on the horn of the anvil or on a rounded edge that acts like a fuller. This moves a lot more metal a lot more quickly than working on the flat face. I would do this for the first two-thirds or so of the first heat, and then finish that heat on the face of the anvil to true things up and smooth out the bumps. The second heat would be started on the horn if needed, then completed on the face, working right at the edge of the face so that I can forge a tight point. I hold the stock up at an angle to the face that is equal to the angle of the point.

Different folks do things differently. Some people start a point at the end and work back up the bar, land others start a ways up the bar and draw down to the point. I find it helpful to knock down the end with a few quick blows with the stock angled up, and then move to the horn to do the heavy drawing out. (Remember that the end will lose heat the quickest, so work done there should be done first to avoid splits.) Then back to the face to even things out, before the next heat.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you try this the first thing in the morning, it won't work nearly as easily as if you do it later in the day. One reason is that you're not warmed up and controlling your hammer the best that you can, and the other reason is that the anvil isn't warmed up either and is drawing heat from the work faster. A well-warmed anvil really extends your working time on a heat. I toss a chunk of steel about 1"X2"X3" in the forge while I'm bringing it up to heat and then set it on the anvil face to warm it first in the morning.

I'm darn sure no guru at this but I hope this helps, nonetheless.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/30/03 02:46:48 GMT

Rugg, I imagine the Cookbook is out of print. The last I heard, the editor Jim Fleming, was living in Breckenridge, Colorado. He might know something. Jim Fleming and Tal Harris are "grad students" of mine from the "olden days". Tal had a special affection for Mr. Whitaker, having worked with him on occasion. I would check www.ibiblio.org/nc-abana/ref001.html for contact info. Tal is in North Carolina.

Vicopper has covered the taper thing pretty well. Years ago, Harry Jensen told me about his apprenticeship in Denmark. He said if you did something right, nothing was said. If you did something wrong, you could get a kick in the pants (literally). He got kicked once for drawing a point by starting behind the bar end and working away from himself. This was in the l940s and they were using wrought iron, so there was a good chance of it splitting at or near the point by doing so. This can happen with mild steel, also. Since I heard that story, I have been starting on the end and working back. I strike with the MIDDLE OF THE HAMMER FACE on the end of the bar to start. Once I get a short point, I work back, lengthening it, making the angle more and more acute, until I stop at three inches (or whatever).

Sometimes, you might go to a heavier hammer than your usual hand hammer. I made a 4 pound one which I use occasionally. I believe most smiths use a 2 to 3 pound hammer for everyday stuff. Using a heavier hammer and lifting your arm higher will SLOW YOUR RHYTHM, but each blow will be more telling.

   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/30/03 03:51:34 GMT

A couple of questions in no particular order. First, as a eginning bladesmithI found a couple of bars of what I'm told is Stainless steel. however, my magnet shows little to no attractin to it. Is this normal? Second,I'm tinkering with wire damascus making, but the salvaged wire I have burns off a yellow ash when heated. Is this bad? And third, is there any way color steel aside from bluing it? Thanks, Weary.
   Jeff - Sunday, 03/30/03 11:01:42 GMT

Jeff, if your stainless is non-magnetic, it is what is called "Austenitic" stainless. This is usually of no use to a knife maker. It has a very low carbon content and because it has about 8% Nickel, it cannot be transformed to martensite to make it hard. If you must use stainless, find some 440C, which is cutlery grade stainless. If you are a beginning bladesmith, I would let the pattern welded project wait for your skills to catch up to your dreams. Wire-cable pattern welded billets require considerable skill to get the billet welded completely before you begin forging the blade. A worthy goal, but it is like buying your first baseball glove and immediately trying out for the big leaques. As far as the yellow ash, it may be the remnants of lubricants or chemical contamination of the cable.
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/30/03 13:47:42 GMT

ok now that i know whata thermocouple is can anyone inform me a little more on the exact parts i would need to buy or a good website i could use to find one wit pictures and such or special spec i might need to now etc. etc. etc. thanks for your help TGold
   - HammerFall - Sunday, 03/30/03 15:25:25 GMT

I need info on an Anvil made in Sweden. It is stamped on the left side 198 lbs Sweden, below the horn on the left side of the base, and a 0 with a upside down F inside the 0 in the center of the base below the horn. I know part of the history of this anvil, and have used it for 25yrs. I would like to know what the 0 F represent's. Thanks for your help. Doug Gregory
   Doug Gregory - Sunday, 03/30/03 15:36:47 GMT

Hammerfall: You need a Type K (I think, check the termparature range and pick the one good to about 2500F) Thermocouple and a meter to read it. You may also have to calibrate the T/C to the meter and this is where it gets tricky. Putting it in boiling water will get you close to 212F but you cannot assume the meter and the T/C will have a linear calibration all the way to 2500F. Since propane is supposed to burn a 2350F, you might use this for the second calibration point. It will get you close enough. The meter is just a multi-meter calibrated for temperature but it is reading mV. A Type K T/C is supposed to put out a standard mV at a given temperature so you can look up the mV output and set your meter to that mV in the propane flame. Go to www.omega.com. They have tons of instruments, T/C's and lots of data to support them. However, why do you want to know the temperature in the forge at all times? The forge temperature is not necessarily the workpiece temperature and that is what you are really concerned about, isn't it? If the temperature is not what you desire, what can you do to change it?
   Quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/30/03 15:41:38 GMT

Jeff - That "yellow ash" sounds to me like you're working with some galvanized cable. The fumes given off by heated galvanizing are poisonous.

If the stainless is useless for blades, you could still use it for fittings.
   - Stormcrow - Sunday, 03/30/03 16:12:52 GMT

Passing thru Texas a year or two ago, we went into the Petroleum Museum (?) in central Texas. One display was a series of paintings of blacksmiths sharpening those old drill points, one diorama was an actual size smithy at a wellhead. Maybe someone down that way could get photos and permission to post them here?
   John McPherson - Sunday, 03/30/03 16:22:48 GMT

Tahnks QC, much appreciated.... no for my next trick... eh hem i mean question.... Dos anyone know ofany knfemakers or smiths in the new england area prefferably Rhode Island or Massachusettes? if so please let me know i'm looking to find someone to lend me a helping hand and someoe to share indeas and such with. Tahnks you again
   - HammerFall - Sunday, 03/30/03 17:25:33 GMT

Thanks for the info everyone. More notes for my "to do" book!
   Jeff - Sunday, 03/30/03 19:15:34 GMT

Anvil Presevation Will, 1) DO NOT make repairs of any type until you understand ALL the anvil constructions. 2) DO NOT make repairs if you have to ask how-to. 3) "Refinishing" should be no more than light grinding to smooth out chips. Refinishing the face is best done with a belt sander and only a minimum amount of material should be removed. The horn can stand more work than the face.

Good anvils are a relatively sophisticated tool and as much damage is done by improper repairs as by ignorance and abuse. Unless an anvil is severly damaged it is best to just work around the defects that can not be easily ground out. Even in severly damaged anvils you can work around defects and with imagination the defects often become "features" with special uses.

I just spent another day at a boyscout metalworking merit badge workshop. All the anvils we were using were pretty much beat to pieces (broken faces, missing horn, sway backed, face worn THROUGH). However, they had no effect on the quality of the work (I demonstrated using the same tools) and one young man even found use for the hole in the face of an ancient de-horned colonial anvil.

Heavy spring snow in Virgina this AM but melted already. .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/30/03 19:53:31 GMT

Forging a Taper/Point: As VI and Frank pointed out there are a lot of variables. In fact, most smiths can forge a 3" (75mm) taper in 1/2" (13mm) stock in one heat. I used to be able to do it consistantly but now that I am out of practice it would take two heats for long of taper.

Yesterday working with the Scouts using my old coal forge (Care of Paw-Paw), I realized just how under powered my little NC Wisper baby is. The coal forge would easily produce yellow heats that I have never seen in Whisper baby. The difference in forgeability is significant and makes a big difference in how much work you can do in one heat.

We were also working with a broad selection of hammers. My standard US made smithing hammer has a significant crown to the face that combined with its weight (3.5 lbs. - 1600g) moves steel very fast compared to the flatter faced German and Swedish hammers we had. But this large of hammer which I used to use day in and out is too much for me to use for any length today. But the crown on the face is also a significant difference.

So you have heat, tool shape and the expericance of the user. If you have to pause to take aim or between turning the steel you are losing heat and the steel will NOT move as fast. Fractions of a second make a difference in this field and THAT is where efficiency in moving metal often comes from. Its not the size of the hammer but how many blows the smith can apply WITH a specific hammer in a given time.
Yesterday Boy Scouts were amazed at how fast I could move metal but I am still in awe at how fast full time professional smiths can move metal. . . The difference is your frame of reference.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/30/03 20:16:17 GMT

I am in Mass. North Central, Town called Royalston. Been smithing for almost 4 yrs now and I am learning the finer points of bladesmithing as time permits when I have no other forge projects in the works. I would be more than happy to share any knowledge I have with you .
You may contact me at blackdog.forge@verizon.net or call
978-249-6404 no later than 8:00 PM please.
A.K.A Mark
   Harley - Sunday, 03/30/03 20:19:47 GMT

Tahnks a lot harey i'll make sure to get in touch with you sometime this coming week.... i'm down around the "cape cod" area as some call it but more west neer new bedford the fishing port. Hopeflly we can make arrangements so i or we can learn... In teaching you will learn and in lerning you will teach"
   - HammerFall - Sunday, 03/30/03 20:22:30 GMT

everyone please excuse my terrible lac of type corrections
   HammerFall - Sunday, 03/30/03 20:39:24 GMT

What is the most reliable test for identifying wrought iron? and any tips on good places to find some?
- Loren
   Loren - Sunday, 03/30/03 21:58:12 GMT

Thanks for all the info on the anvil. Have you considered putting it on the FAQs page?
   Will - Sunday, 03/30/03 22:06:33 GMT

Anvil Questions Most are covered in our anvil series on the 21st Century page. But I am working on a new anvil artical.

Tools for Metalworking: Leon, What type of metalworking? Armor? Blacksmithing? Bladesmithing? Fabrication? Foundry? Jewelery? Sculpture? Structural? Machine work?

When you know and have studied the subject a little, you will also know what tools you need. Where to find them is easy. Paying for them is another thing. At least for most of us the cost of tools is a consideration. Many of us make many of our tools. This itself is a specialty that often requires different equipment than you would normally need for a particular field. Most blacksmiths end up with tools ranging from Jewelers to heavy manufacturing equipment.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/30/03 22:23:26 GMT

Identifying Wrought Loren, sometimes it is easy and sometimes not. Wrought comes in various non-standardized grades that range from very nearly pure iron to coarse "muck-bar". There are several tests.

1) Spark Test. When ground the carbon free wrought will through long sparks with heavy heads and few branches. It helps to have a sample to compare to mild steel on the same grinder because spark tests vary quite a bit in apearance depending on the speed, coarseness and press applied to the grinding wheel. Note that pure iron or very low carbon iron will spark the same as wrought.

2) Breaking Test. Take a small bar up to 1/2" square and saw about half way through or a little more. Then bend the bar to break it. The break with show the fibrous grains similar to wood. The better the wrought the finer the grains and in triple refined wrought it may be difficult to distinguish. Compare test to mild steel.

3) Etching or rust. Old rusted wrought clearly shows the grains and looks a lot like rotten wood. A heavy etch will do the same. Again, coarse wrought will be easier to distinguish than fine.

4) Hardenability Test. Wrought does not harden when quenched. Even mild steel will quench hard enough to blunt a good center punch.

5) Forgeability Test. This requires experiance but is almost as reliable as the other tests.

Depending on where you live wrought may or may not be plentiful. Old buildings contain a lot of wrought. I have several lintle bars from old stone fireplaces that are wrought. Some smiths search for old fencing, much of which was all wrought up into the 1950's. Early truss bridges are often entirely wrought. Those with tension bars with forge welded loops in the ends are allll wrought. A few folks have old wrought for sale. Since you asked a few will probably respond directly.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/30/03 22:46:54 GMT

My response to an email I received today. If any one else wants to help, let me know via e-mail and I'll keep you posted on my progress.


I do not know who the manufacturer of the TL-13A, the TL-29 pocket knife, or the TL-32 tool kit was.

BUT. I know that I still have a TL-29A pocket knife, I may have a set of TL-13A lineman's pliers, and I may
have a TL-32 kit. If I don't have the 13-A and TL-32 kit, I think I know where I can buy a set.

If you will send me your snail mail address, I would be honored to send you my TL-29A and the rest of the set as
well as a way of continuing my service. I will also attempt to locate sources for the other tools so that you may
share the information with your brother and sister soldiers.

With a great deal of respect and a large thank you for your service, I am proud to sign myself as:

CSM James A. Wilson Sr. (USA Ret)

   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/30/03 23:09:07 GMT

I've been making some grilling forks with 3/8" round and when I can get the prongs right it is a nice looking piece. I split the end of the handle and make a heart or some other design (whatever looks good- hearts are really not my favorite, but alot of people like them) then I put a twist in the center. BUT the prongs are driving me nuts!!! I am probably breaking more than I'm finishing. I know there must be a better way. I flatten the 3/8" round piece for about 2", then split it. i was flattening the split first, then taperingg it then rounding and shaping it, but lately I've been trying to just split and start rounding right away, then closer to the end I flatten what's left of the split) It does seem to work out better but I'm still cracking the metal on the outside of the prong near the start of the handle, and sometimes it breaks right off (when I'm just about done)or if it doesn't break I end up with a split near the handle that drives me crazy. This doesn't always happen of course, and I've been trying to pay attention to what I'm doing that is causing this, but I thought maybe someone would be able to give me some suggestions. Thanks!!!
   - wendy - Monday, 03/31/03 02:32:28 GMT

Wendy when I have had trouble with this type of thing before I attributed it to crystal growth and crappy steel. What I would suggest is to pack the area before you put it back into the fire. The crystals grow because you are getting the area hot, but not hitting it because you are focused on a different area. If you pack the area, by just tapping it with the hammer before you heat it back up again it will help with the problem. Are you using a gas forge? I think the problem is worse in a gas forge, because everything gets hot every time you put the piece in the fire. In a coal forge you can get much better heat control. Working faster helps too:-)

I had a heck of a problem with this trying to make some spurs out of 3/4" square stock. I was using a springfuller to make acorns for the pricks of the spurs and then flattening and splitting the branchs. By the time I had the branchs drawn out the stem of the acorn was toast:-( The only thing that helped me was working faster, and desperately trying to keep the stem from getting to working temp... Good luck:-)
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 03/31/03 02:53:31 GMT

i would like to know what tools to use for blaadesmithing
   - jeremy - Monday, 03/31/03 04:45:24 GMT

   - jeremy - Monday, 03/31/03 04:49:51 GMT

Forks: I've made these both by splitting and by welding. I never had trouble with cracking but I was never happy with the amount of material from flattening and sliting. I prefered welding on a piece and drawing it out.

You didn't say what type of steel you were using but if its mild steel and it is cracking from normal forging then it IS bad steel. If you repeatedly work too cold internal shear cracking occurs that eventualy shows up. The higher the carbon the worse the problem. However, most higher carbon steels are better quality than A-36 which when good is OK but when poorly made is almost impossible to work except at a near welding heat.

You can have problems with decarburization but it takes many long heats and is usualy only a problem in higher carbon steel.

Sounds like bad steel to me.
   - guru - Monday, 03/31/03 05:29:54 GMT

My son has a school project to work on relating to metal working files. I have searched the web and cannot find specific information about the type and manufacture of files. I keep getting metal file cabinets or tool sellers or computer file sites. We have also been to the local library (small town in New Zealand) and have not been able to find any reference books on this subject, so I thought you guy's might be able to answer some, in not all, of the following questions for my son (he is 14 and has very limited metalwork skills, so would appreciate a fuller answer without too much jargon) or can you refer us to another web-site:

What are the parts of a file? (eg tang)
What are the different types of hand files? (eg round, triangular)
What are the different types of flat files?
What is 'single cut' and 'double cut'?
What are the different types of cut? (eg bastard, rough - apparently 5 in all)
What is each type of cut used for?
What is 'cross filing' and 'draw filing'?
Which method gives the best finish?
What is 'pinning'?
How do you clean a file?
What type of metal is a file made of?
How is a file made? (eg forged and tempered?)
How are the teeth put on the file? (eg milled?)
How is a file treated to make it last?
Is the tang also heat treated?
   Paul Keast - Monday, 03/31/03 08:19:35 GMT

Bladsmithing Tools: Jeremy, It depends on the level and type of work. There are two basic blade making schools, stock removal and forging. Both use the same tools except that forging requires a forge, hammer and anvil.

Both methods require grinding equipment of some type.
Blade makers have used grinders for hundreds of years. Large water powered grindstones were used at a very early date. Modern bladesmiths use belt grinders of various types and sizes. Most have more than one. Small grinders that take 2" wide belts are used for light grinding and finishing. Heavy 4" grinders of 2 to 3 HP are used to for heavy cutting and shaping particularly for stock removal and laminated steel work. Bader, Kalamazoo and Baldor are typical brands.

Ancient and traditional Japanese bladesmiths use scrapers instead of grinding.

Polishing can be done by hand but is much faster with a buffing wheel. Cotton buffs running about 4,000 FPM are used. It helps to have at least two wheels for different buffing compounds.

Many bladesmiths contract out heat treating but others do it themselves. It can be done in a forge but usualy requires better temperature control if doing quality work. Kilns with temperature controls can be used but salt baths are also popular.

Drill presses are used for drilling holes as well as spinning rivets. Bladesmiths also use power hammers, hydraulic presses and small rolling mills.

Hand tools include files, hacksaw, chisels, tongs. Oxy-acetylene equipment is often used for silver soldering parts.
   - guru - Monday, 03/31/03 08:35:32 GMT

Forks: Maybe I am going to a lot of trouble for nothing but I have been upsetting the end of a 3/8" rod for about 1" and then flattening it, splitting it. I make sure I work fast and hot. Once it is split, I spread it and fuller the crotch between the tines, filing it smooth if necessary. While it is certainly possible to get some steel high in sulfur or phosphorus, most of the time I would guess it was just working the steel too cold. Grain growth is also a problem if you work too hot and the toughness of the steel can be retored by letting it cool to room temperature, and reheating to a medium heat and letting it cool in air. This will re-austenitize the steel with smaller grains and air cooling will allow the austenite to form finer grains than if you slow cool it.
   - Quenchcrack - Monday, 03/31/03 13:29:32 GMT

Paul, This site does not complete homework assignments, but perhaps we can help. You can try manufacturers. Simonds answers some of your questions: www.simonds.cc And Nicholson may help: cooperhandtools.com/brands/nicholson Two books are helpful. "Metalwork Technology and Practice" by Repp and McCarthy ISBN 0-02-676460-1 and "Machinery's Handbook", almost any edition. I have the 20th, 1978, Industrial Press, New York. The anvilfire Archives section has material that will answer many of your questions. And when using your search engines, try "hand files".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/31/03 13:54:38 GMT

Can you direct me to someone or a company that can fabricate a cast iron sink stand?
I am looking for a design with a decorative flat cast piece on the front and fluted straight legs. Dimensions: 32" in height, 32" wide, 22" deep. I have a picture of an example but could not paste it on this page.
John Wamelink
   John Wamelink - Monday, 03/31/03 15:55:16 GMT

I would like more info on the EC-JYH is there a book available yet.
   Charles Hurst - Monday, 03/31/03 16:18:44 GMT


I have heard in many of my books, and in conversations that when splitting something, it is best to use a small punch to make a hole at the end point of the split, then split to the hole. This prevents the split from traveling farther than you intended. This travel may contribute to your problem with them splitting off. Not sure if this is where the break is, but it's one more thing to think about.
   Monica - Monday, 03/31/03 16:55:35 GMT

Cast Iron Sink: John, Unless you have a very large budget and a lot of time I doubt that you are going to be sucessfull getting a custom made unit. Casting is not fabrication. This job is a four stage process requiring specialists at each stage that all work with each other.

1) Pattern making, carving the originals in wood and making forms as required by a specific foundry. The pattern maker many or MAY NOT be the artist that designs the piece. Most are not so you may have to add a sixth person to the task. Having a photo as an example will not be enough for the pattern maker. You will need true scale detailed drawings with every dimension. Details will include the proper fit and finish for assembly as well as fitting of the plumbing fittings.

2) Having a one off set of castings made. Today there are very few small foundries that will do one offs. Even small foundries are production operations and make their money off making thousands of each part.

3) Finishing the casting. As-cast the items will be rough and require grinding, sanding and filing before enameling.

4) Enameling. This is actualy kiln fired ceramic and when applied to large items is a very specialized process. I used to know a local company that did this but it has been many years ago.

It is not an impossible task but it will require a LOT of technical coordination. One of the people in the chain may act as coordinator but it is a time consuming job (hundreds of hours).

An option would be to find a metal artist to fabricate what you are looking for in wrought iron and have the sink enameled, made of stainless or some other material (stone, ceramic). This is a different process than casting and the results should not be expected to be the same. It IS possible to force the work to look exactly like a casting but it is not natural. Essentialy you would have someone carving solid steel into the shape of a casting.

I suspect you may be contacted by one or more of our readers about this job. It would be an interesting job for an artist/craftsperson but only at a significant price. I've bid on a number of these types of special jobs over the past few years and none have come to fruition. Usualy it is because the customer thinks $1,000 is a lot of money when it is easily a $10,000 job. . . But if you work with the craftsperson and don't dictate the job they may find a very attractive solution for you.
   - guru - Monday, 03/31/03 17:30:51 GMT

I would like to thank Jock, Paw Paw and Charley Pierce for coming up last Saturday and helping out with the Boy Scout Metalworking Merit Badge project. All of you came a long, weary way, but your expertise and tools were just what was needed. The great portable forge impressed everybody and simplified life no end. All nine scouts met the qualifications for their merit badges, thank to you and a number of involved and talented parents (although we were certainly pushing the limits of our capacity).

I could never have done it without you.

(Next year I'll pass it on to the BGOP, and I'll take a break after five years.)

Once again, my sincere appreciation.


Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/31/03 18:44:05 GMT

i want to know how it would be easier to make rings.
and how to set stones in them
   - jeremy - Monday, 03/31/03 19:37:19 GMT


This question is about work hardening brass (CDA 353) and how much of an increase in hardness can be expected from machining. Raw material is HRB 60-75. Machining will start with ~ .160" and remove .005" from the largest to .100" to achieve the smallest.

Are we talking an increase in 5 HRB or 20 - 30 HRB?

Thank You,

Jim Bongard
   JIM - Monday, 03/31/03 21:17:00 GMT

Work Hardening Brass

I do not know the specific answer but I can say that any work hardend that would occur would be limited to the extreme surface and that the core section would not increase in hardness. Also, the amount of potential hardening on the surface is probably very dependant on the depth of cut that you take, with the deeper cut resulting in a greater increase in hardness. One more factor is the raw material hardness. I would think that the harder the material is to start with, the less influece machining will have on increasing the hardness. I must say that most of my experiece is with the HRC scale so I don't have a good feel for how hard 60-75 HRB is, but I would tend to guess that you will not see an increase as high as 20 HRB. Perhaps the Machinery's Handbook would be more helpful.
   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 03/31/03 21:42:20 GMT

John Wamelink, are you asking for a sink stand made of cast iron or a fabricated steel stand for a cast iron sink with a cast front plate?
   - Tony - Monday, 03/31/03 22:12:14 GMT

Re: Forks
My comment seconds Monica's.
Drill or punch a hole where you want the split to terminate.
If available, take a look in Donald Streeter's book, Professional Smithing (Scribner's, 1980 ed.), at his instructions on making a Flesh Fork. There are good photographs with accompanying text which explain the process. Using his text I was able to make the fork.
Good luck.
   Howard - Monday, 03/31/03 22:30:44 GMT

frank, thanks for more info on the cookbook. it has been out of print for quite some time, i imagine. since mr whitaker had such a high regard for ABANA, ill take your advice and check with them...

vicopper, thanks for the reply re the taper in two heats. i read this in the recent hammer's blow. yes, start with 1/2"sq and make a 3"taper. the way i interpreted the article was that one should be able to make a "perfect" square taper in two heats. angle and measurement diagrams were shown to judge the accuracy of the study and any hammer marks were inadequate. a dimentionally (sp) near perfect taper. i like hammer marks. i also like champering the edges, the taper included. my hammer of choice is a 32OZ ball pein that i found in the street. if i could not use both left and right extremities, i would be even slower. i will find the volume # and page. read the article. i think that is a lot of precision for two heats for the novice. i have a forge master. hope by this summer i will have constructed a two burner forge that will melt cast iron. i do rotate every two blows or so. i have gotten in the habit of knocking down the corners on the far edge first and working the taper towards myself as frank mentioned. if i am to taper something longer than about 3", ill use the horn with emphasis on getting as many blows in as possible and straightening on the face before putting it back in the forge.

the diagrams in this article are very good and thought provoking.

thanks for the replies..
   - rugg - Monday, 03/31/03 23:13:38 GMT

Wendy, Use a lemon heat. Quit forging AT a low cherry. Don't use bending correction blows below a low cherry, especially at the "blue brittle range", about 300F to 700F. Donald Streeter shows a "convenience bend" where the neck of the shank is bent at 90, so that it is parallel to the opened tines. This puts you in a good forging position. Straighten the bend later on. The tines don't have to be round in section, although that is
traditional. I have made many a fork with rectangular tines, the wide flat to the outside/inside, not top and bottom (viewing it, as it rests horizontally on a table).
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/31/03 23:22:19 GMT

camphering? is that how it is spelled???
   - rugg - Monday, 03/31/03 23:25:47 GMT

rugg, I think you mean "chamfering"... could be wrong.
   T. Gold - Monday, 03/31/03 23:33:42 GMT

Work Hardening Brass: Jim, Patrick is right about the surface. However, if you start with material with a cold drawn surface and machine it you are removing the part with the most work hardening so the results of machining will be a softer surface. The only time machining produces a work hardened surface is if the tool is dull or has significant negative rake.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/01/03 00:01:31 GMT

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