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This is an archive of posts from March 15 - 21, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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Fencing & experience - catching up after the weekend.
Frank, I'm not fencing anymore, but one of my fondest memories was going to one of the Cherry Blossom Opens in Washington DC in the early 70's while still in college. I was placed in the same pool as a bunch of hot shot collegiate team fencers as well as some older fencers, including one older gentleman in his 70's who I learned had fenced in the Army. I remember one of his first bouts with one of the collegiate fencers - the young fencer was fast, thin, and had a great lunge. The older gentlemen had superb form, but was two points down within 30 seconds. I remember thinking he had to have been very good, but age had caught up to him. I didn't hold that opinion much longer - the bout ended I think 5 - 3 in his favor with all of his touches scored with parry and ripostes. I was also really glad that I hadn't started with him so I could adjust my concept when we fenced. Both he and I advanced to the next round, but the guy who came across as a "hot shot" collegiate fencer didn't.
Having fenced, and fought in the SCA, I've a decent idea what swords require as a working tool. I know they aren't practical today as a weapon, but still think they're neat (even at 50+) and would love to have the capability to make a truly good one. I'm not there - I'm working on more practical medieval/colonial reenacting equipment - trammels, candlesticks, hinges, etc. Trying to find some time to progress towards axes, knives, edged tools, etc. But swords are still neat.
Quenchcrack - re metallurgy on knife and sword sites - I tend to read some of them and then mentally wince.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 03/15/04 00:02:30 EST

Those coal prices you guys are paying hurts me just reading them. I pay $65 a ton for okay coal and 95 a ton for real good coal in Kansas.
   - Robert - Monday, 03/15/04 00:21:14 EST

Out here on the coast, we just rent our coal...can't afford to own any.
   - Pete F - Monday, 03/15/04 02:35:49 EST

Thanks to all for your posts on coal vs. gas. I'm actually located in NB but Maine is just over an hour's drive away and at one time I had the name of a supplier there, but it's slipped away.THe work I do , I guess, mostly involves larger objects, (rims for decorative wagon wheels, sled runners) so maybe a gas forge wouldn't be a good choice for me. However, after cruising this site and keenjunk for a couple months, I can see where you art smiths are just having all the fun.
I found out that one of our provincial companies NBCoal has coal for $80 a ton, but there seems to be some discussion as to whether it's any good for smithing. It's bituminous, but a couple people have mentioned the point that it's dirty coal. Oh well, maybe at that it's alright for general shaping.
Thanks all.
   Ed Long - Monday, 03/15/04 08:37:53 EST

Robert, I'll go to Kansas, if you'll share your coal source. Presently, I'm getting coal from the King Mine in Hesperus, Colorado. It's usable, but has a high ash content. A few rocks mixed in which is nobody's fault. That's the way it comes from the mine.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/15/04 09:05:21 EST

ITC-100: Applying sooner is better than later. The surface of the formed kaolin fibre insulation breaks down and becomes dusty over time. Applying the ITC-100 over the broken down surface is more difficult than a new surface AND it takes more product. The ITC-100 prevents the future surface break down.

Although Kaowool and similar products will withstand the temperaturs encountered in a forge the recommend "working" temperature is less. The reason is the fibers seperate and break apart due to oxidation and flame impingment at forge temperatures. Protecting the surface prevents this break down.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 09:36:41 EST

Ed and propane versus coal?

For the sled runners a gas forge would be just fine as long as there are large enough barstock ports on both ends. For doing wagon wheels there are a few patterns of gas forges that would work nicely. Especially if you built your own and could build one with an open C shape that was wide enough to take the curvature of the wheel. (A mankel two burner open sided horseshoers forge would work pretty good for doing those types of shapes, if you want to go with a comercial forge) Open designs that will accomodate larger odd shapes are less efficient, as far as fuel usage than some of the really nice gas forge designs, but I suppose you end up paying for versitility one way or another:-)

Gas is very nice for production work, tune the forge to a slightly reducing atmosphere, thow a pile of steel in and just keep pulling out pieces and working on them, and tuned right you don't even need to worry about burning the metal (maybe a little about grain growth;-)

Gavainh & QC:-) and the proliferation of metalurgical misinformation:-)

It is a shame, but there is a ton of disturbingly bad information being passed around and "taught" to people. It reminds me of a quote from Tom Lerher (spelling?:-)
"I maintain that the reason most folk music is so bad is that it was written by the people, now if a professional composer had written these..." For the most part there is nothing wrong with the practices of good basic blacksmithing metalurgy. As long as you do a proper Test Quench series, with every junkyard steel before making anything from it. Forge out three or four pieces, heat to non-magnetic plus a little, then quench in the primary quenching mediums: air, oil, water, and/or brine. Test the pieces, then use what worked best. You will likely run into some exotic steel that doesn't work right, but you can always throw that away:-) But never completely trust any junkyard steel identification list. Even files and rasps vary a huge amount from style to style, even by the same manufacturer, some horse shoes rasps are 1110, some 1035, some 1045, and then there are all the different steels that are used in files, which I have heard at various times and from various (dubious:-) sources were W1, W2, D2, 01, 1095, 1085. And I don't even want to start to talk about the dubious claims about the history of patternwelded steel!:-) A healthy dose of skepticism is useful, unless the information is from a well respected accademic sources, or from the steel producer themselves, and even they make mistakes sometimes.
   Fionnbharr - Monday, 03/15/04 09:42:54 EST

Life is Fleeting: I met a wonderful fellow named Roger Duncan at the Boone Hammerfest on February 28. He was pedling a replacement for Pure Iron that he called "Double Ought Iron" or 00Fe. (.003% C). This was a very low carbon steel product used to make alloy and specialty steels. I bought a little of it to test and report on.

Today I recieved a note from Bill Clemens, President of BGCM via BGoP that Roger had passed away Saturday March 13th. No other details. Roger had said that he was a lung cancer survivor and that may have had something to do with it.

Roger was a bright intelegent retired lawyer with a riotous sense of humor. His plan for Double Ought Iron was to peddle it across the country so he was have an excuse to travel, meet blacksmiths and help the cause.

Roger mentioned that he had "mortgaged the farm" to purchase a rolling of 00Fe and have it processed. This was something in the neighborhood of 20,000 pounds. We will try to keep you informed as I am sure it will help the family to do something with Roger's inventory.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 09:58:36 EST

Gas Usage:

I manage to squeeze out 24+ hours out of a BBQ propane tank on my one-burner Whisper Baby (the "Baby Balrog"). Of course, I use it for light and straight work and do all of my forge welding in the coal forge.

Coal Supplies:

If you have a pickup truck, sometimes a road trip is what's needed for good coal supplies. I still owe Jerry V. a run down to Richmond to help him work a surplus site that's only available on weekdays.

Actual Medieval Knives & Boy Scouts:

The BSA dropped sheath knives quite a few years ago, sometime between my elder brother and I (1950s- early 1960s) and my sons (1980s). In my day the Explorer troop all had Springfield bayonetes from WW-2. Folding knives are perceived as "safer" and "less agressive" according to some of the Scoutmasters I spoke with while I was "Third Assistant Scoutmaster" to my sons' troop (there was no "First" or "Second" but I was leaving the position open for them ;-).

Going by the archeological reports from Jorvik and a number of other sources "medieval" knives (especially early medieval) were made almost in any way and shape that you can imagine. Case hardened, laminated, piled, pattern welded, homogeneous steel, clip point, drop point, spear point, sheeps-foot...even folding knives (in Roman and Viking contexts!). I could wham-out a piece of wrought iron into a tanged blade, case harden it with charcoal (bone prefered) and clay, and come up with an accurate, useable knife. (Just remember to sharpen fom one side only.) Swords, on the other claw, are sophisticcated and specialized. (I'm not beating a dead horse, I'm tenderizing the meat!) My point is that there are entire worlds to explore before anybody ever gets to swords. I always wanted to make one too, but I keep getting sidetracked by other interesting items and projects (not to mention other demands on my time). The more I think about it the more I would follow Jock's suggestion that they work with knives and try a few tools before thay fling themselves over the edge. (Pun intended.) If they can't handle that, they should stick with reading hysterical fiction and get a day job to support the better swordsmiths. (...and hiltsmiths. :-)

Grey but nice on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/15/04 10:18:41 EST

Frank, We have coal strip mines in Southeast Kansas and the okay coal comes from there. Say you dump a bucket full in the forge and light it up, it cokes good and burns hot but after you burn the coal down to where it starts messing with you I just clean the forge out and refill with fresh. Now the $95 a ton coal my smith assoc. buys tons and tons at a time, its hauled in from somewhere? I`ll check where it comes from. It cokes real good and at times will produce a palm size clinker after a hour or so. Now about the time you get some it will probably be from a half dirt vein and you`ll be ready to come visit me!
   - Robert - Monday, 03/15/04 10:42:51 EST

Found a couple of pieces of wrought iron during my morning walk---I've gotta stop using those "magnetic shoe inserts!"
Leastways I remembered to bring my backpack along. Soon as I get back from Chile I'll try advertising in the local paper for anvils...I miss my harem.

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/15/04 12:33:13 EST

From may 23 to may 27 I will be in New Orleans, Louisiana in the French Cartier. Is there any blacksmith shop that I would be able to visit.Also is there other web site like iforgeiron.com.????
   Andr Boudreault - Monday, 03/15/04 13:27:01 EST

Robert, I have family in Fort Scott. Coal mines were worked for years around there, but many have been depleted & reclaimed. In what town is your home?
   Ron childers - Monday, 03/15/04 13:42:18 EST

I am thinking of building a power hammer, I have looked over the JYH page quite a bit and it has given me a lot of ideas. There is one thing that I am not sure of with the designs. Does the impact force on the workpiece come from the momentum of the moving mass, or does it come from the compression of the spring? If the first, you would want the mass moving at its highest velocity when it strikes the work piece. This would occur during the middle of the stroke. The problem would be when you want to stop the mass would still be hitting the anvil. If the force comes from the compression of the spring, then why would you require such a large moving mass, if it is bottoming out at the end of its stroke.

   kevin - Monday, 03/15/04 14:01:52 EST

Hi there,I have recently bought some replica greek armor and I was wondering if there was a paint or process to be able to give it a "bronze" appearence or colour cheaply. I am currently living in Ireland and have no metal working experience.Sorry if this request sounds stupid or if its not at all possible, thanks for any help Phill
   Phill - Monday, 03/15/04 15:34:40 EST

On Oxy-propane cutting equipment I use flashback arrestors and hose check valves yet on my propane forge all I have is a simple regulator. Why are we not advised to fit the same safety equipment on the propane bottles when they are fitted to the forge only?
   Bob G. - Monday, 03/15/04 16:21:08 EST


Take a look at:

   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/15/04 16:33:07 EST

Check Valves: Bob, I use them on my equipment. However, they are not required on regular propane because there is no chance of pressurized pure oxygen backing up the hose as there is in a oxy-acetylene rig. BUT, if you use your propane bottle on an oxy-propane torch it should have a check valve in the line at the regulator.

Note that many torches come with check valves in the torch valves. These should be supplemented with check valves on the regulator ends.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 16:56:43 EST

Take it easy, lad- most of this discussion just used your post as a starting point. Take a deep breath, settle back, and observe how the system works. Half of it isn't personal, and a quarter of it's constructive. As for the other 25%, well, we're just a tad grouchy 'round here at times.

Be careful with those exclamation points, too, you could club someone with such a profusion. Less is more.

However, if you really want to squeeze your foot into this shoe, go ahead. ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/15/04 17:00:12 EST

Would Be Bladesmith: Please take your questions and comments to another forum. There are a bunch of blade forums for you to take your pick of.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 17:06:45 EST

Bladesmith; may I calmly suggest that if this site tends to jerk your chain you simply go to another---my grandfather used to tell a joke about a fellowing hitting his head with a hammer, when asked why he did it the reply was "because it feels so good when I stop!"

What are the harmonics like on your swords?---A *very* important part of sword design that is not part of knife design.

BTW, sales of items are not a good indicator of quality, else I wouldn't see so much of so little worth at the fleamarkets. You must have noticed this yourself otherwise you would not have started making stuff yourself.

Thomas (if I'm sounding pendantic blame it on jetlag)
   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/15/04 17:06:57 EST

I'm hoping I can get a bit more information about my anvil and it's maintenance from people much more expert than I. I bought it several years ago for $20 and it was at least as heavy as me and wasn't cracked and it had a good ring and rebound. Which were the only qualities my grandfather taught me to look for in an anvil. It has rounded over edges and the face has several small chips out of it on the edges corners. There is quite a collection of shallow pits and chips on the face. But, the face is flat overall. The anvil looks almost as if it were whittled from a block of iron. There is one hardie hole and one pritchel hole. Two tapered holes in the waist, under the horn and heel. And a tapered hole in the bottom.
On one side it says:
Then there is a circle of letters that says either
On the left outside of the circle is a 1.
In the circle is a 2.
To the right of the circle is a 12. I'm thinking this means it weighs about 180 lbs.
My main concern is if it is possible to grind the face and edges a bit to clear off the large collection of pits/chips...I don't think I should weld the surface or edges as it might ruin the hardness, but am also concerned about the grinding heat drawing out the hardness.
Basically I want to know how not to screw it up, but fix the face a bit. Any recommedations????
Also, any ideas what the 3 tapered holes are for? I can't imagine any useful tooling that would fit in them. Some sort of mounting system?
Thanx in advance. Kay
   Kay - Monday, 03/15/04 17:11:30 EST


The Peter Wright was made in England. The weight is as you figured it, 180 pounds. The three tapered hole had bars known as porter bars jammed into them for the purpose of manuevering the white hot chunk of wrought iron during the forging process.

I'll let the guru answer the repair question.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/15/04 17:28:46 EST

I am just geting started as a blacksmith and i have a cole forge. I have a lot a experience in potery and porcelin. what i would like to no is how to make a crucible fore my forge. thanks for any help you can give
   stump - Monday, 03/15/04 17:40:09 EST

Current coal price in Louisville Ky from Cumberland Elkhorn coal cCo. is $10/50#bag, and 200 per loose ton. This is very good metalurgical coal from W. Va.
   ptree - Monday, 03/15/04 17:57:57 EST

Another list I read had this link posted to it. It's the US Navy safety Center photo of the day page. Look through some of the past photos for a bit of a scare.

   Mike Trahey - Monday, 03/15/04 18:57:10 EST

Check Valves: another thing to consider is that acetylene can decompose exothermically *without* the presence of oxygen. Propane is *much* more stable, without the proper ammount of O2 it's not going to do much.

Thomas---I'd about tied with the Guru but Atli beat us by seversl lengths!
   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 03/15/04 18:58:21 EST

I seem to have a never ending supply of silly novice questions, but I gess thats part of being a silly novice. I am wondering if my whisper momma's apparent scale problem or difference is scale (much more tenacious) is related to temp/reducing atmosphere? It was mentioned to tune the forge to a reducing atmosphere, but in the burner FAQ and posts most of the burner tuning relates to the use of chokes. Will simply running higher propane pressure as suggested for forge welding in the manual result in a carburizing/reducing atmosphere due to the incomplete combustion of the excess propane? By runnig a little leaner, and thus a lower temp result in less scale accumulation? The coal forge is alot easier to manage in terms of combustion zones.
Any thoughts on managing the gas forge a little better?
   RFraser - Monday, 03/15/04 19:02:46 EST

is the forging scene of Narsil in Lord of The Rings The Return Of The King Accurate
   - - Monday, 03/15/04 19:03:37 EST

Being a silly novice also means no proofing and really bad spelling. I Guess. I feel better now.
   RFraser - Monday, 03/15/04 19:11:06 EST

Haven't seen it yet but probably not. Too many steps have to be left out. The technical verasity of the directors is a tad questionable from the first of the series. The opening naration (and the book) specificaly states the rings were FORGED. . This over top of the rings being made by lost wax casting.

On the other hand magic was involved in the production of everything made by the Dwarfs and Elves so anything you can imagine would be technicaly accurate for the setting. Its FICTION in a make believe world.

If you want to see a REAL blade forged there are some very good knifemaker videos out there. We have reviews of several on our book review page.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 19:22:40 EST

Gas Forge Scale: RF, Most gas forges run quite lean, thus oxidizing. You can get gas forges to run rich but it is hard to do. Increasing the pressure on an atmospheric (venturi) burner just sucks in more air along with the fuel at the same proportions. So, atmospheric burners without chokes cannot have the mixture adjusted.

Coal fires naturaly have high carbon atmospheres and like to burn that way. Gas forges do not. Folks have been known to toss some coal into their gas forge but it makes a mess. . .

Oil forges have the properties of both gas and coal forges. They look and operate (almost) like a gas forge but can burn very rich (to the point of making clouds of black smoke).
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 19:31:28 EST

My father and I were having a discussion the other day about sled shoes (the steel on the bottom of the runners). WHen grandfather made sleds, they used what they called at the time Norway Iron for sled shoes. Dad says when he used sleds hauling sawlogs in the woods (he's 86) this type of sled shoe wouldn't stick to the snow, but that a local blacksmith had got some other shoes once that had to be iced frequently to keep them from sticking. I've used standard mild steel, but under certain conditions, it'll stick like a son of a gun. Any metalurgical experts wanna try to explain this one?
   Ed Long - Monday, 03/15/04 19:38:10 EST

Thanks for the note Guru.

The LOTR question I assume is refering to the reforging of the broken sword at the anvil by the elf smith and the answer is an unqualified no, it is not accurate. As I recall one end of the sword fragment was cool and the fragments we lain together on the anvil surface with only one portion heated to a chery red.

As I am learning to forge weld in this real world I am still finding that on occasion magic and some dumb luck is useful, perhaps more so than a heaping spoonful of cherry heat.
   RFraser - Monday, 03/15/04 19:59:57 EST

Gas Forge Mixtures

I've got my atmospheric forge set up with a needle valve that bleeds extra gas into the burner (without going through the orifice and sucking in more air). I've sized the orifice so the forge runs oxidizing (lean) with the needle valve closed. I open the needle valve to richen the mixture as needed.
   Mike B - Monday, 03/15/04 20:25:33 EST

Bladesmith, awesomearcher07@aol.com or bladesmith justiced262@aol.com, AKA Mr.Bones07, mad07@adelphia.net AKA Sarge07 mad07@adelphia.net:

IP cache-mtc-ad06.proxy.aol.com
IP cache-rg08.proxy.aol.com
IP oh-vermillion2b-159.clvdoh.adelphia.net

I've tried to be nice. You are now officialy banned from this site. If you post here again or on any of our other forums or I will be forced to send a complaint to your ISP.

Do not post a response. They will be deleted as has the rest of your dribble. Good by.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 20:27:18 EST

LOTR & Reforging the broken sword.

I'm really new to this blacksmithing thing. By the time the last movie had come out, I'd already failed at forge welding more times then I care to remember. When the Elves welded the sword at a dark cherry, I decided that the Elves needed to be taken down a peg and I started rooting for the Orcs.
   Mike Trahey - Monday, 03/15/04 20:30:35 EST

Auxilliary gas line: Mike B, Great idea. A lot cleaner than tossing in a lump of coal. . WHICH by the way, was really done by a demonstrator at the Asheville ABANA convention. He was trying to forge weld an edge steel on a broadsword blank and having no luck getting a forging heat. He asked the audiance how the heck to get a weld in the unfamiliar gas forge and someone said "toss in some coal". He did, as a joke, and got a nice forge weld. . along with clouds of smoke. .
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 20:33:08 EST

Forging broken parts at a dull red heat was also done in "The African Queen" by Humphry Bogart aided by Katherine Hepburn . . Hard to believe a movie crew would go all the way to Africa to make a film on location under unbelievably difficult conditions and screw up so bad technicaly in a major scene.

For the LOTR production people there was no excuse. They had hired every craftsperson in New Zealand to work on making props including everthing from furniture, jewelery and armor. All they had to do was ask one of the dozen smiths they had in their employ. . .

OR ask here. Although you rarely see the questions we get hit regularly by easily identifiable URLs at Disney, Pixar and others looking for reference material. And you DO see questions from authors frequently but we get more by mail. Paw-paw has had long running technical discussions with numerous authors.

Maybe the future will be technicaly better in this regard and we won't have any more pirates sword fighting with (what would be a limp) red hot sword. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 20:47:52 EST

I now know what anvil I've got. It doesn't mean much to me, yet, but it's neat to know. Now all I need is a bit of maintenance information, if possible.
It's a 180 lb Peter Wright and it has rounded over edges and the face has several small chips out of it on the edges and corners. There is quite a collection of shallow pits and chips on the face. But, the face is flat overall. My main concern is if it is possible to grind the face and edges a bit to clear off the worst of the large collection of pits/chips...I don't think I should weld the surface or edges as it might ruin the hardness, or cause some catastrophic failure of the hardened surface. I am also concerned about the grinding heat drawing out the hardness. I'm not sure how the hardened face is created. The horn doesn't seem nearly as hard as the face. Is it OK to grind it a bit smoother as it also has some funky nicks?
Basically I want to know how NOT to screw it up, but fix the face, edges, and horn a bit. Any recommendations????
Thanx in advance. Kay
   Kay - Monday, 03/15/04 20:58:50 EST

Kay, sorry, we got distracted.

You can best use a belt sander (like a hand held furniture or floor sander) to dress the face. You can also use soft flap type wheels in an angle grinder. However this takes more skill to keep things flat and to not make divots. The most you can do with either sander on an anvil is warm it to the touch.

Sharp chiped edges can be dressed with an angle grinder and then smoothed with the above soft grinding methods.

IF the pits are deep do not try to dress them all out. A light sanding (10 or 20 minutes) taking off .005" (.13mm) will reduce the number of pits tremondously.

Then USE the anvil. Unless you are doing fine silver work or other non-ferrous work the slight pitting will not show in your work. About the only folks than need a polished anvil to work iron/steel is armourers working plate cold to be polished.

In fact, if you are just doing regular decorative work that is going to be left black or painted the scaling from the forge will create more texture than using the anvil AS-IS.

It that is the type of work you are doing then just dust off the coarse rust and USE the anvil. The surface will become polished from use.

If you are worried about more rust wipe it with oil or a spray on a little WD-40 and cover with a cloth or towel and keep out of the rain,

For most critical work keeping your hammers dressed nicely is more important. Use the soft sanding methods to radius corners and smooth the face. Polish is you have the equipment.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 21:29:51 EST

OBTW - The face on your Peter Wright is 1/2" to 5/8" of hardened steel plate on a soft wrought iron body. The hardening should go pretty deep. The horn is dead soft wrought iron. The horn can be welded, dressed and polished until you can see yourself in it. But beware, that wrought iron has a wood grain like texture that may become visible when polished too much.

Soft wrought horns can be dressed with a file and sandpaper. Pulling a belt across the radius like doing a shoe shine makes an excellent surface. Most have had the tip of the horn mushroomed and this can be dressed with a grinder if needed. Note that for safety the point of most anvil horns is flattend to about a 3/8" or 1/2" diameter. The bigger the anvil the bigger the flat.

IF the anvil has any serious defects it is best to accept them and just work around them. Most are a good reminder of what NOT to do.
   - guru - Monday, 03/15/04 21:37:51 EST

> Paw-paw has had long running technical discussions with numerous authors.

Oh boy, have I ever!

But I really don't mind them. There are at least three other books (besides mine) that I KNOW the smithing is accurate, because I helped the authors make sure that it was. At least one of those authors looked up the smithing group in his area, and attended at least one of their regular meetings to see what was happening, and more important, HOW it was happening.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/15/04 22:10:13 EST

Since we're foing tool history, anyway...

A friend of mine gave me a small "machinists vice" that he says he got from his dad. It's got some small "jaws" sitting on the screw that look like they're for holding round stock.I'm wondering if this is unusual. I've never seen anything like it, before, but that doesn't really mean much.
The vice is about 25 lbs, or so, and opens to about 4" on the main jaws. the markings on the side are a squashed globe looking thing with a maple leaf on top with the word "infact" overlayed. Under the logo is "NO.440 . Any thoughts would be appreciated. So would offers of trades for one of those 400 lb euro anvils, but I have a feeling that's just fantasy. :-)
   - HavokTD - Monday, 03/15/04 22:35:22 EST

Paw Paw and Guru:
Thank you very much for your information and advice. Actually, my anvil has a 'hammer polish' on it right now. It's just a bit too lumpy for my uses. And, I didn't want to ruin it by doing something too aggressive. A nice 60 grit finish that gets rid of most of the nicks and chips is just what I want. I use the anvil for aluminum, iron and copper. And sometimes to beat a bit of tin that needs to be fairly smooth. The advice you gave me should make it as perfect as I need. I need an anvil, not a makeup mirror.
Thanx TONS!
   Kay - Monday, 03/15/04 22:55:24 EST


One thing I do that is slightly different from the way Jock does it. I use a 4" belt sander. I set it on the face of the anvil, turn it on and lock the switch in the on position. Then I hold it a bit loosely in my and and allow it to "roam" over the face of the anvil. That seems to work about the best for me. As the belt (60 grit aluminum oxide) wears down, it gets progressivly finer and finer. You can almost put a mirror finish on that way, and by changing to a flap wheel, you could turn it into a makeup mirror.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/15/04 23:01:32 EST

Guru, I don't know if you American boys can get a product called Fluid Film, but I've found it beats WD 40 hands down for eating through rust. I use it a lot on farm machinery, especially anything that's had fertilizer in it. Works wonders. Forms a protective barrier on the metal after removing the rust too, which WD 40 doesn't always do. The Fluid Film is thick and it sticks even to vertical surfaces.
   Ed Long - Monday, 03/15/04 23:07:04 EST

Folks, I have a Champion #40 blower that I would like to put a motor on. I ask ya"ll if there is any one out there that has done this? Motor HP,gear reduction,variable speed,etc.The forge will run great on about 30-40 rpm on the hand crank,But want the veriable speed. Thanks...J
   - j seale - Monday, 03/15/04 23:27:38 EST

What I use for my tools that sit a while between uses is Boeshield, made by Boeing AIrcraft. A bit pricey at about $10 for a 16 oz. rattle can, but boy, does it work! Most of the woodworking supplies carry it for table saws and such.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/15/04 23:46:23 EST

RFraser don't know if this will help or not, and since all my forge welding has been with coal or coke I can't comment on how to run a gas forge yet.
Scale - type of scale is dependent on both temperature and the amount of oxygen present. In my short stint with a reheat furnace manufacturer for the steel mills, they recommended a slightly oxidizing atmosphere rather than a reducing atmosphere. The scale from the oxidizing atmosphere was easier to remove during the rolling process, and produced a superior finish in the hot bands. Though there was less oxide from a reducing atmosphere it was more adherent to the steel being processed, and affected surface finish on the final product. While the purchaser of a blacksmith made object today often expects to see hammer marks, demonstrating that an item was hand made, purchsers of steel sheet for commercial end use don't because it shows as a blemish on their final product.
   - Gavainh - Monday, 03/15/04 23:46:55 EST

Champion blower conversion:

I think you'd be way better off to advertise the thing on eBay, get a ridiculous price for it and then pick up one of the Cannedy-Otto blowers that wre designed to be motor driven. They can be had reasonably and you can drive one very nicely with a 1/6 to 1/4 hp motor. Instead of variable speed, use a choke on the INPUT side of the blower. Input chokes don't overload the motor and blowr the way that output chokes do. Variable speed motors are either real wimpy or real expensive.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/15/04 23:49:47 EST

"Movie" Welding

For 99.44% of the population, who's going to notice? For the .56% of us who do, it just makes us appreciate when they get something right. When I saw the Narsil scene at the premier of LOTR I turned to the eldest daughter and #2 son and whispered "Elvish magic!" Since they've put in their time in the forge they both chuckled. I vaguely remember my History of Theatre course back in the '60s at U. of Md. and the professor talking about "The willful suspension of disbelief." If it doesn't screw-up history, reality, or the internal logic of the movie too bad, I'm somewhat forgiving. I still notice, but it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. Besides, the wif will have her own critiques.

A failure to Communicate

I was about to observe that part of the problem with certain enthusiasts is a failure to transmit information in a coherent manner. Had his earlier postings been clearer, and his follow-ups less rabid, perhaps learning could have taken place. We all miss punctuation and grammar and spelling from time to time, and we all find it hard to express certain thoughts, processes and information; but a clear, well thought-out, correct missive is far more likely to elicit a positive, or at least informative, response than a rambling, misspelled narrative with little punctuation and no control (or overuse of) the shift key.

I am a very slow typist, using two, four or six fingers from time-to-time. My small muscle coordination is pathetic. People laugh at me when I use a calculator! In elementary school they used to send my for "spaz lessons" as I called them, trying to work some improvement. My handwriting is nothing to write home about either. Still, with a little effort, proofing, and an occasional run (cut-and-paste) through spell-check I manage to get the message across. So much so that my supervisors have used me to edit and help revise their letters throughout most of my government career. People would do well to slow down, think things over and post when they feel the message is clear. We're not talking immortal poetry here, we're talking about transmitting information. You can be brilliant, but if you don't care to be articulate, we'll never know it. All of those silly rules really do help.

Just preaching to the choir. :-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 03/16/04 00:05:58 EST

Coal: I'll repeat what I've said before, I am a bad enough blacksmith I can use about any coal to be found. Cleaning out clinkers, coking out sulphur, throwing out shale, etc. just take time. Unless a person is in production to make money it does not make a lot of sense to buy high priced coal. I used to blame my welding problems on the coal until Bill Davis taught me how to weld. So if you are a rank amateur like me don't get too hung up on coal quality unless you can really afford it. And if you've got a dirt floor in your forge shop all those clinkers make a really nice walking surface that doesn't get muddy.

J Seale: I thought hand cranks were variable speed. And a hand crank sure saves coal, and you rarely burn the piece left in the fire.
   - Andy Martin - Tuesday, 03/16/04 00:09:39 EST

Lack of desire to punctuate, spell, capitalize, or use proper grammer is all part of the modern

"dont have to learn the old ways ill just make it up as i go along because i have to express myself, its too much trouble to learn all that stuff anyway, who needs it".

Even the norm on the internet is to never capitalize.

And I hate it.
   - Andy Martin - Tuesday, 03/16/04 00:18:55 EST

If I was _brutally_ honest, I wanted to make a sword too, once. What have I made instead? Two small tables from 8mm mild rod with wooden top. I picked these because they are functional (used daily), and required repeating the leg forging six times in all (three on each table). I could have bent these cold, almost by hand, but my intention was to learn more about hammer control. 8mm rod has a quick heat time so there was instant gratification.

My advice to fellow newbies: Make something simple that you will use regularly.

Thanks for your posts RE:Horn cracks (vicopper, pete F,Quenchcrack & Guru)
   Scott - Tuesday, 03/16/04 01:33:38 EST

If Brother Seale is determined to drive his blower with a motor, how about removing the crank arm, and chucking up the resulting stub shaft in a variable speed, well geared electric drill motor with the appropriate support arms, jury rigged from whatever works. The "speed control" could be a worm geared hose clamp wrapped around the pistol grip and trigger with a flat washer soldered into the screwdriver slot. Harbor Freight sells a variable speed control for wood routers, often on sale for about $12.49, which will work on most any motor with brushes in it. "Thoughts like this come all the time, with neither reason, end, nor rhyme. " (Pogo Possum, via the late Walt Kelly)
   3dogs - Tuesday, 03/16/04 04:03:56 EST

I too have used Boshield on all my woodworking tools tables, planer large jointer, tablesaw, large bandsaw, and it is the single best protectant out there.
I have decided to finish the abana forge, but I was trying to economize when I bought the insulation board and got the 2300 rated instead of 2600, saved nearly 1/2 on $$. I found a 3000 degree castable refractory that I could easily cast into the shape for this forge. Question is I have read the castable tends to hold more heat, and I am wondering if the walls would have to be thicker to prevent excess heating of the metal case? I suppose I could look up the thermal conductivity rate and do some math, but I thought I would float the question first.

I also just got the plans for the air hammer, and have a source that I can get material for at $0.30 per pound! Is the roller conversion only for the treadel hammer? The plans call for brass bearing on the head, and I though what about some sealed roller bearings?

Yes I have an illness, to many projects. But hey, you will never know what you are capable of untill you try everything, right? Drives the wife nuts, but for some reason she still loves me, though she did say she liked it better when I smelled like fresh wood shavings instead of carborundum and oxidized steel.
   RFraser - Tuesday, 03/16/04 09:24:02 EST


Welcome to the club. Lack of punctuation and capitalization angers me no end.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/16/04 09:41:29 EST


you used two commas in your sample quote!!!!!!! shame on you you kno yur supposed to run it all together in an UNINTELLIGABLE MASS!!!!!

(We now return to slow, but reflective, normality.)

On the other claw, sometimes it's worth the process to wade through some posts, because the folks are nice people with something worth saying or needing some good advice. I'm always happy to give nice people a pass on format, and a piece of my time. Being polite and patient makes a difference. When someone asks you opinion, or questions your knowledge, or asks a favor, they needn't be aggressive about your response. The answer lies, like so many other things, in the balance.

I've got work to do...
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 03/16/04 10:15:38 EST

best sword forgeing I have seen was in Kill Bill .... he left it out! I beleave so as not to mess it up!!!
the only one that realy bothered me was the sword fight with hot sword, anyone who was tried to harden a sword will understand why!
one other thing that drives me baty is the miss information (good plot tool) that some folks take to far and the insist is corect. I had one kid ask if I made harron marked swords;) then argure with me when I tried to explain!
every time I see a movie now all I can hear it the ...(insert insult here) argueing with me at faire.
such it life I guess.
   MP - Tuesday, 03/16/04 10:17:32 EST

WD-40 and Rust: Please note that despite a few posts here WD-40 has no "active" ingrediants. This makes it acceptable for lubrication and rust PREVENTION. All other brands of penetrating oil that I know of such as Liquid Wrench, Blaster and probably the "Fluid Film" that Ed mentioned have active ingrediants that are actualy corrosize. They are great for breaking rust but if left as a protectant will create more rust.

I made the mistake of spraying down a chest full of machinists tools with Liquid Wrench as protectant years ago. When I came back a few months later you would not belive the rust. It took me several days to free up all the micrometers and my 1" digitals were ruined (stripped the gears due to frozen pins).

I have been using WD-40 for the past 20 years as a light rust protectant and it does a good job. However, equipment will get dust covered and this absorbs the oil and rust will ensue. The WD-40 also wipes off very easy (good and bad). I use it on my wood working tools because of the ease of wiping off. But things parked in the shop that you may brush by ocassionaly will end up dry and rusted.

For long term use and heavy service a variety of manufacturers make rust protectants. The one I use is made by CRC. DO NOT use them on precision tools. They dry and can lock up good micrometers and feeler gage sets (anything with snug moving fits). Use a non-drying non-detergent oil on these items. Watch, gun or sewing machine oil is very good for these items.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 10:32:10 EST

Motorized Blower: J Seale, Good hand cranked blowers are rare and expensive. They were not designed to be motorized or for the continous service. Sell it to someone that needs a non-electric blower and buy a good, designed to electric blower from one of our advertisers. The Kaynes have very nice units that cost less than a motor. Centaur has several types and Pieh does too I think.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 10:37:36 EST

I was told many moons ago the WD in WD-40 stands for water displacement. Is there any truth to this?

I have access to a fair amount of scraps from brand new garage door springs (the coil type). Ive been playing with them a bit and making S and J hooks. Any suggestions as to other SIMPLE projects for this material? Most of the iForge stuff is still a little too involved for my skill level.

Once again many thanks.
   - Aksmith - Tuesday, 03/16/04 11:24:43 EST


Yes. It was the 40th formula that NASA tried for water displacemetn. Hence WD-40
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/16/04 11:49:28 EST

For those critiquing the LOTR Narsil forging scene, I would like to add to the suspension of disbelief side of things, we don't actually know what the material was supposed to be, Tolkein came up with (or used) Adamantine and Mithral, neither of which exist in the real world. So, they may actually weld in a magical red heat ;-)}

At least in the books, Tolkein had the reforging happen off-stage.

This may sound odd, but is there a decent book as a primer on sheetmetal construction, or am I just better off playing with it until I figure out the best way to build and hang a sheet metal box?
   Escher - Tuesday, 03/16/04 12:05:18 EST

Antique swage block?

There is a swage block that belongs to a member of my maternal Beattie family. Letters that accompanied the block say that it was brought to Canada in 1838 when our ancestor, Robert Beattie, emigrated there from Newbliss, County Monaghan, Ireland. He was also supposed to have brought a 20 lb. hammer, which has now been lost.

The swage block is pictured at:


(I hope the connection to the picture works.)

Can anyone tell by looking at these pictures if this swage block can be of that age, about 1838?

The immigrant Robert Beattie's occupation is given as a ship's carpenter, or shipwright. Is this swage the pattern of one that would be used for ship ironwork? Were there different swage patterns for different purposes?

Is the swage in perfect condition or is one side of it broken off? Was it likely square originally?

The family would very much appreciate anything you veteran smithies can tell us about this swage block.

Many thanks, Bill Pease, Lancaster, Pa. USA
   Bill Pease - Tuesday, 03/16/04 12:08:23 EST

Bill, You only pasted in part of the link.

There are swage blocks from the 1700's in many collections. Many are unique personal patterns, many later blocks are common production patterns. Almost every iron foundry in the 1800's produced blocks so the variety is almost limitless.

It was common for blocks to break as they were brittle cast iron. It was also common for bad castings where the metal did not completely fill the mold to be sold as seconds. So there is all kind of secondary variation.

Mail me the photo and I may be able to tell you more about it. I would also like permission to use it in an upcoming article about swage blocks.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 12:41:01 EST

I have 200 hundred peices of stainless rod (3/16" dia.) which require a 'crimp' to act as a stop for a washer. You know...the type that is used on a kid's wagon wheel axle.
Is there a hand tool or small machine available to do this?
Will I have to make something from tool steel?

Thank you, for your time & input.
David Boutilier
   Dave - Tuesday, 03/16/04 12:44:04 EST

RE: Antique swage block?

Whoops, sorry about that. The full, horrendously long link to a picture is below, but I'll also email photos to you.

Antique Swage Block - Album

Thanks, Bill Pease
   Bill Pease - Tuesday, 03/16/04 12:53:20 EST

Sheet Metal: Escher, I have some OLD books from the 30's and 40's on the subject but have not seen anything recent. I am sure there is something out there. Some general metalworking books such as Metalworking Technology and Practice (see swords article resource list) cover the subject lightly.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 13:00:44 EST

Crimp Pinch Tool: Dave, As common as they are I think these are all custom made dies. I have not seen one in press tooling catalogs. But that doesn't mean someone doesn't make it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 13:02:43 EST

Norway Iron was considered one of the best grades of wrought iron produced as it came from a good ore body and was still smelted with charcoal long after other places switched to coke..

I don't know why it would be "slicker" but your comment on icing did suggest something. Wrought Iron has a "tooth" to the surface and so was considered a superior material to use for galvanizing as it would "hold" a thicker layer. Perhaps the microscopic surface properties would act to help it in the sledding use too.

(It is interesting to note that the term Norway iron or sweedish iron was fraudently used for iron produced in Russia at times and shipped through the Scandanavian ports to England. "Steel Before Bessemer")

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 03/16/04 13:08:23 EST

Antique Swage Block: Bill, Yes that is definitely a very old swage block. Yes it is broken (it was "square").

This is a general purpose industrial type block made in some quantity by a foundry. I suspect it is much older than the import date due to the wear and tear and the style. Very few 19th Century blocks had 60#&176; V's and most later industrial types the holes were in even rows and columns. I would guess late 1700's to about 1810 or so.

This was a general blacksmiths tool. A shipwright MIGHT have had one but their tools tended to be light sets. I suspect this was just an old tool that he had in a general collection of smiths tools.

A great family heirloom.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 13:19:15 EST


Years ago a freind of mine told me that a metalurgist at Berkley did his thesis on designing a metal that had the measerable properties of mithril:-) ie a more silver colored steel, etc:-) Don't know if it is an urban legend or what the compostition ended up being, or even what all the defining characteristic they tried to get? Just a frivious fun fact:-)
   Fionnbharr - Tuesday, 03/16/04 13:54:12 EST

Jusst a note Guru, the Fluid Film product isn't a corrosive, it's a protectant that provides a film (hence the name) over the metal. We use it up here in the frozen north a lot to undercoat vehicles to prevent rust from salt and slush.
Yes, spraying your tools with Liquid wrench would give them a rough going over because that product like WD40 is designed to remove all traces of rust as well as any grease, oil, etc that builds up on the metal. However, after the gunk is removed, it should then be protected.
Hope you're not thinking I'm trying to argue with you here. :-) Just pointing out the advantages of the product. I use it for coating plow shares, potato digger shares, baler chamber slides and just about every thing else when I put machinery away on the farm. Come spring the metal is still covered with a nice oily film. However the stuff is expensive at around $14 a can.
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/16/04 14:06:49 EST

Thank you all for the responce on my blower question.I am going to keep it like it is.If later on I still think I need it,Will figure something out to keep it original.Also it has got a little slack in the crank,teeth are ok, could it bee a key way? I don't have any diagrams,etc. so I don't think that I will tear it apart, any info. would be appreciated...J
   - j seale - Tuesday, 03/16/04 14:28:23 EST

Mithril: I had someone try to tell me it was Titanium. I asked if they had read all of Tolkin. . . I think a hint to its composition is the fact that it rhymes with Myth. Good authors know when NOT to be any more specific than needed. Too much detail and you get caught in an impossibility. Myths work best when there are few facts. Trying to make more of them than there is just defeats their purpose. Magic alloys are just THAT, magic.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/16/04 14:46:50 EST

Sheet metal books-
I really like these two- they are written for apprentices who will become union sheet metal workers, so they start at the very beginning, like how to read a ruler. They show how to layout, how to use hand tools, and basic sheet metal machines.
Sheet metal shop practice- Leo A. Mayer, Atp publications
Sheet metal hand processes- Delmar Publishers
Sheet metal Machine Processes- Zinngrabe and Schumacher-Delmar Publishers
You ought to be able to put that little crimp on your ss round bar with an arbor press, and a simple homemade die. 304 will work with mild steel dies, you just may have to make more than one of them.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 03/16/04 15:06:07 EST

Ed Long, Fluid Film was sold on TV "The shootin' Show" for about $13 + s&h for use on guns. Our local industrial supply has it for appx $4. Only problem is it smells bad - make sure the metal is dry and use in a well vented area.
   Ron childers - Tuesday, 03/16/04 15:55:41 EST

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."

-- Confucius 551-479 B.C.

Just something I ran across and thought I would share.
   Shack - Tuesday, 03/16/04 16:08:48 EST

I cannot find the post about a plasma cutter someone had tried out that was not an arm and a leg expensive? Brand name model if possible?
Richard F
   RFraser - Tuesday, 03/16/04 16:32:50 EST

I've just taken delivery of my new Cliff Carroll Pro-Forge. I now need to fabricate some sort of stand from angle iron. I'm going to make it so that the forge can be mounted at waist or chest height, it will have bar supports and tool holdersand the gas bottle(s) will act as ballast. I will add large bolts to the feet so that it can be levelled on uneven floors. Is there anything else I need to add?
   Bob G. - Tuesday, 03/16/04 17:13:42 EST

Richard, check in the archives under NAVIGATE anvilfire.
   - Billy - Tuesday, 03/16/04 17:35:13 EST

Ron, you're right about the smell...somewhere between hot oil and dog ****. The can I was talking about was the aerosol size. I get them from the local tractor dealer, but the gallon jugs are a lot cheaper in the long run.
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/16/04 18:18:28 EST

I knew that>>> thanks
   RFraser - Tuesday, 03/16/04 18:28:00 EST

Found the post, it was from guru responding to bladdersmiter's question about working sheet stock into a helm. I think I "remembered" more data then was there though...Must have been a recovered memory...
   RFraser - Tuesday, 03/16/04 18:50:49 EST

richard I posted a while ago about a light duty Plasma cutter I bought from Datona mig cuts 3/16" cleanly 1/4" with a little back slag it runs on 120V and does not tax my small single stage 5hp compressor, it can run off the shop compressor all day with out even warming it up. The consumables are cheap enough and once you are used to the machine last a good while, and the folks there are easy to deal with. They even shiped one to Canada for me :) their url is : http://www.daytonamig.com/

the machine I bought for my light duty portable is thier model N250 $775 and can be had in a 220v version for the same price
   Mark P - Tuesday, 03/16/04 20:03:24 EST

"I hear and I forget, I see and I forget, I do and I forget"
-Quenchcrack 1947-

Guru: I own a Lincoln 225 buzzbox but it has more power than I need in most cases. I use the smallest rod I can find and use minimal amps but still blow through sometimes. Granted, my welding skills are less than good but would a 110V flux-core unit give any better results? Most of my welds are just tack welds and I seldom use up a whole rod in a weekend.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 03/16/04 20:31:26 EST

Have you tried a small type 309 rod, works well with buzz boxs on thin stuff, and will join carbon to carbon or stainless. Expensive, and not a color match to carbon, but works.
I have a Weld-pak 100 that I tried with fluxcore, and then converted to co2 gas mig. The fluxcore spattered a bit more, and the wire was more per pound for less steel in the joint/# of wire. I can weld quite thin sheet with this unit, but it does NOT penetrate thicker stock near as well as a stick. It is the limited heat. It does a nice bead, and you can place the wire on the spot, drop the hood and weld right where you want it very easly. I have had this unit for several years, and thought it would burn up and then I could get a "real" mig. It shows no sign of failing. I would guess that I have run about60# of wire throught it. I would reccomend this unit for a useage such as you mention.
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/16/04 21:49:57 EST


I use 6013 rod in as small as 1/16" and can weld pretty thin stuff without blowthrough. With 10 or 11 series rod, the blowthrough on thin stuff is a problem. 6013 is intended to be a fast fill, low penetration rod for sheet work. Thin stuff is best done with DC straight polarity, but will work with AC. If you maintain as short an arc length as possible, the flame pressure is reduced and you get less blow through.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/16/04 22:22:23 EST

is their books or vidios showing how to make different jigs for bending steel ; example.; large round circles thanks for helping
   - Andrew - Tuesday, 03/16/04 22:47:18 EST

I second Ptree's comments on the durability of the Lincoln Weld Pac 100. I too have run about 60# of wire through it and it works well within its limitations, and I **like** being able to plug it into a 110V outlet. The Lincoln 225 AC/DC takes care of the thicker stock for me, and the oxy-acetlyene is of course immensely versatile as mentioned, but one should always be aware of the safety issues associated with this unit. Formal training is A Good Idea.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 03/17/04 00:04:19 EST

I have a Lincoln 125 and I love it. I've run a couple dozen 10lb spools thru that puppy and it's still running great. Mostly using it on 1/8 stock but it will work thicker stock. It plugs in anywhere and it's easy to throw on my lift.
   - dief - Wednesday, 03/17/04 00:17:25 EST

Hi, since I'm legally a minor I was wondering if there is any possible way for me to learn to weld. I have a forge and am able to make OK arrowheads(along with some other basic items), but community colleges won't admit me into a welding course. (Have to have finished Grd 12 English)
   Walker - Wednesday, 03/17/04 03:20:27 EST

Hello, I normally spend my time on wood working forums, as that is my main hobby.
I'm here with a question about the steel used in japanese chisels.
Could you tell me what 'white steel' and 'blue steel' are?
They are used as names of types of steel.
How do these steels fit into the big picture with the likes of HSS and high carbon steel (are they all the same thing)?
And how would they compare with a folded steel chisel?
I relize the last question may be a 'how long is a piece of string' type question.

Any help would be appreciated :)

And obviously I'm new here.

   Ben - Wednesday, 03/17/04 03:40:02 EST

Hello QC;
A trick an old guy showed me for thin rods is to cut them in half and clean a new contact end on the second piece. The dinky rods tend to jiggle around a lot..when they are shorter they are easier to control...As Vicopper noted, 1013 is a low penetrating rod for sheet...then keep the arc short, moving right along and not tilted towards the thin part. Laying the thin stuff on a heavy cast iron table will also help, by drawing some of the heat away...or use a copper back-up bar.
Those old Lincoln 225 buzz boxes are wonderful old tools and with the right rods will cover an amazing range of needs. OTOH, those dinky MIGs are just plain cute.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 03/17/04 03:44:32 EST

Ben, sounds like you just got a catalog from Japan Woodworker. I have never heard of the terms "white" steel or "Blue" steel and I am a metallurgical engineer. I think these are terms used mainly in Japan. The white or blue steel is probably a high carbon tool steel and it is laminated between two layers of low carbon steel. The white or blue steel is usually harder than a tool made entirely from just tool steel and holds an edge well. Laminating it provides some flexible strength to what is a very brittle steel. The Japanese tools are generally excellent and perform very well but the price is hard to justify. Tools from Germany or Switzerland are every bit as good and cost less.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/17/04 07:45:26 EST


You might check in your area to see if there is a vocational/technical type school that offers welding courses. They are often associated with the local school system, so you may even be able to get credit for it. Also check with the local steelworkers' or pipefitters unions. They sometimes run schools.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/17/04 08:27:34 EST

Ptree, You can weld much thicker stock with the little MIG if you preheat. But if you have to weld much thick stuff bite the bullet and get a bigger mig. I've seen some really good deals on used Miller 185's & 150's lately.

Ed, yeah, a wet dawg. I bought a can of Fluid Film yesterday for $1.85 + tax. I was looking for a super drill bit to drill through 1" of S-7 - It doesn't look very impressive, but the man said it's Cobalt. Anyone have a better idea?
   Ron childers - Wednesday, 03/17/04 08:36:12 EST

Walker, Join your local AB chapter. Where do you live? Most of us grizzled old buzzards enjoy teaching you youngsters a thing or two.
   Ron childers - Wednesday, 03/17/04 08:45:51 EST

Please me inform me how can I subcribe in anvilfire
Arun Palange.
   arun palange. - Wednesday, 03/17/04 10:39:15 EST

Walker, Our Blacksmith Assoc. does give an introduction to welding but you won`t get training like you will at a Vo-Tech School. The most important thing is being taught how to weld by someone who knows how to weld, the good ol`boy down the road that scratch welds in his garage on Saturday will probably teach you more mistakes than you will learn on your own. Learning from a Union will mean joining a Union and you must to be 18 and have a High School Diploma, GED or equivalent.

   - Robert ironworker - Wednesday, 03/17/04 10:55:27 EST

Bending: Andrew, See our 21stCentury page article on benders. There are more types of benders there than you will find in any currently published book. Once you understand blacksmith's benders you can go nuts making them for everything. Its easy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/17/04 11:18:49 EST

Subscribing to anvilfire: Arun, anvilfire is a completely on-line publication. Everything we have published on-line is still on-line including news articles going back to 1998.

We DO have a support group, CSI that helps make this all possible. For more information clich the "CSI MEMBERS Group" link at the bottom of this page.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/17/04 11:21:22 EST

Q-C, thank you for publishing your credentials for running for public office.

Walker, I did my first welding in 8th grade---in Jr High metalshop class. Try to find a class at a community college that is *NOT* oriented toward training welders for certitification; but rather an out of hours class for local folks who want to learn a bit of welding.

Ben terms used in advertisements are *selected* for ambiguity and may not have a specific answer to them---like "spring steel" could be any of a number of alloys.

Especially the "folded steel" bit--I can fold 1018 to itself, layer W1 and O1 or just about any mix in between---what alloys are *they* folding---tin cans or razorblades? Heat treat is the other aspect, a good steel badly heat treated may work less well than a lessor steel excellently heat treated.

When in doubt ask the manufacturer for *specifics*.

Going to look at some anvils today at lunch and talked with a young fellow last night who mentioned finding "those clamps that blacksmiths use to hold hot metal with, you know with the long handles" while out prospecting with his father---("Son, I say Son, we need to talk.....") NM is looking up!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/17/04 11:42:42 EST


I second Quenchcrack, it DOES sound like the Japan Woodworker catalog! Somewhere in there they do say something about how the blue and white designations refer to specific analyses of steel made by Hitachi. I suspect they are both high-carbon, but not HSS. The "white" steel may be ATS-34, which is a high-carbon stainless. I'm guessing the "blue" stuff is so called because it can/will turn blue, i.e. is not stainless.

Incidentally, the catalog's comment about chisels laminated with backs of wrought iron from old anchor chain is kinda cool. I guess you use wrought from whatever source is available, I use wagon wheel hub bands for that purpose myself.
The purpose is to give a very soft but tough backing for a very hard but brittle steel edge.

That's also the idea behind a "folded" or laminated tool.

As QC pointed out, a well-heat-treated piece of uniform modern tool steel will perform just as well as if not better than a laminated tool, it's just not as romantic!

ANYTHING connected with Japanese steel will be full of hot air and snake oil mysticism, regardless of the quality of the product, which may be excellent or may be awful.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 03/17/04 12:00:37 EST

Learning Welding: Walker, As noted by others there ARE options. However, learning from the welder next door or a "good ole boy" is not the best way. As Robert pointed out you will learn as many wrong ways of doing things as any.

The important thing about an official course is learning the safety rules.

One place to start is by purchasing a copy of Modern Welding from Centaur Forge or your community college bookstore. It is a big thick $75 (or more) reference that is the standard text book for welding courses. The authors change from year to year but it is the same book. You might also find a copy on the used book pages.

If you study the chapters on Oxy-Acetylene equipment and use and then those on electric welding you will be a long way ahead. THEN if you find a good ole boy that will let you play in his shop you will have already learned the safety rules.

You can also teach yourself arc welding but it REALLY helps to be shown how. I have corrected problems in other smith's welding by just showing them (while they wear a second helmet) a simple arc, the proper angle, rate of motion. . .

One thing to be aware of is that welding is relatively expensive. I had a fellow that had just built a power hammer write and ask if the welding could have run his monthly electric bill up $100. . . YEP. He lost that argument with his wife.

But in the long run the only way to get good at welding is to do a LOT of it. My welding after taking courses was only moderately passable. Then I took on a job building some security chests from 1/4" plate with continous welds. After burning up 50 pounds of rod in a week my welding was MUCH improved.

Tack Welding: To the amature welders out there having problems like Rugg, all I can say is practice, practice, practice. AND, Get you face down CLOSE when you can SEE the weld. If you cannot see INTO the joint and around the arc, the shape of the puddle and the details of the flux burning off you aren't LOOKING! This is the biggest error that amatures make, not seeing INTO the weld. If all you see is a bright spot at the end of the rod you aren't looking. .
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/17/04 12:03:16 EST

Post drill repair question:

I purchased 2 old post drills from an online seller, and both were damaged in shipping. The seller is trying to do the right thing, and the shipment was insured, so I doubt there will be any big problems.

That said, the seller just asked me to estimate the cost to repair the drills, and I just have no idea. I was hoping one of the gurus (or anyone else) might be able to estimate the repair costs.

The first drill (pictures at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3274183694) had the bottom plate broken into 3 pieces. It is a round piece of cast iron, and would probably not be too hard to weld up, for someone with the right tools and skills.

The second drill (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3274183821) is more of a problem. The top gear (I think it is the feed gear) has been broken into 3 pieces. I think it is cast iron as well, and it would probably need to have a least a couple of the teeth recut after welding.

Any ideas, estimates as to costs to repair these?

   -Jim - Wednesday, 03/17/04 13:07:10 EST

Thanks to all for the info on welding. I would also appreciate any comments from owners/users of a Cambell-Hausfield 110V mig rig. WallyWorld has them for $199. With this price comes my concern about how well it could perform. I would worry about consistency of the wire feed and availability of parts and tips.
   Quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/17/04 13:49:25 EST


I had no idea you were the voice behind the Looney Toones rooster. When did you hang up the chicken feathers and put on the red floppy hat?

   Patrick Nowak - Wednesday, 03/17/04 14:07:48 EST

Jim, The bottom plate could be brazed but the other drills feed piece is probably history and that drill is missing its feed arm also.
   - Robert ironworker - Wednesday, 03/17/04 14:47:45 EST

Ron, I bought one of those cobalt 15/16" bits a year ago so I could drill some heay plate to make mounts for a tractor cab. Great lookin bit, quite expensive...and had to be sharpened just as much as any regular old bit would.
   Ed Long - Wednesday, 03/17/04 14:51:51 EST

Swords - New law to ban swords !!

Starting July, anyone found possessing or selling a sword without a permit will face up to six months' jail and fines of up to $12,000.


It was just a matter of time.

   - Conner - Wednesday, 03/17/04 15:13:10 EST


I don't know about the performance of that particular MIG unit, but suspect it would be disappointing due to it being a very low end model. No MIG unit for $200 is going to do much more than weld thin sheet with flux-core wire, with limited options as to voltage, feed speeds, burnback, etc. Personally, if you really plan on doing much welding, I'd look at Miller or Lincoln.

I can say that Campbell Hausfeld is excellent about stocking repair parts, supplies and customer service on their sprayers, compressors, etc. That seems indicative of a generally good customer service policy on the part of the company.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/17/04 16:06:12 EST

Hi Guys,
Don't know if you can answer this question or not. The most you can do is say no, i guess. My boyfriend makes knives for a hobby, plus he has a collection of about 180 knives that he has acquired over the years. Currently he has a 4x32 inch belt sander that he uses. A couple of weeks ago he was given a 5hp motor. From this motor he wants to make the mother of all belt sanders. I know what youre thinking and I am thinking the same thing, I always do with him. I like to think of him as a REAL Tool Man Taylor. I have been looking for the last 2 weeks for blueprints or plans to build a belt sander around this motor, but have only been successful in finding the one sander at Beaumont Metals. Can you give some suggestions?

Thanks Men

Susan M
   susan - Wednesday, 03/17/04 16:17:22 EST

Quenchcrack- I would be suspicious of a welder made by a company that also makes tomato soup. When you go back to wally world with a problem, the nice lady with the big fingernails will probably not know much about welders. I would really recommend buying a welder from a welding supply shop, as a welder needs parts, supplies, gas, and occasional maintenance. Welding supply shops might cost a little more, but they are really worth it in the long run. How would you feel if I got my metullurgy at wally world? Disposable commodity products can safely be bought anywhere, but one of the most important things you buy when you buy a welder is a long term relationship with knowlegeable people.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/17/04 16:20:45 EST

I can't say much about the little MIGs, the few I've seen were very short lived. If you intend do any 'real' welding, get a real MIG machine. It will be the best money you ever spent. Miller, Lincoln, Hobart, Systematics are all good. For my money and experience, Systematics welders are excellent. I have a 230 amp unit that does everything from tin foil fenders to the big stuff. It really can do the job. 20 years of abuse/neglect. Weeks of full power welding. Several thousand pounds of wire. And, it works like the day it was bought. Your best bet is to find a good 200+/- amp unit that has lots of local support. Consumables average out about the same for all the machines.
   Kay - Wednesday, 03/17/04 16:40:11 EST

Patrick, if you were closer a large ASO might be even now approaching terminal velocity above you, Wiley is a friend of mine----what's that shadow above me Aghhhhh *THUD*....

Dropped by the auction over lunch, saw 3 ASO's about 125-150 # nice round horns but you can see the casting line right down the middle of the horn and face, nicely painted black.

There were some cute little swage blocks 25#? but the dishes were too deep and sharp for my taste.

Couple of handfulls of tongs in prettty sad state and *another* bunion stretcher for shoe leather---bout the fifth I've seen placed in with smithing tongs---no possible use in a smithy---unless the smith has bunions...

I'll probably go anyway and try to pick up some raw materials for projects and perhaps the kitchen sink for my wife's studio.

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 03/17/04 16:50:12 EST

Quenchcrack: I have a Campbell Hausfield airless paint sprayer, it is one of their higher end models, about $600, but I have painted several houses with it, it works flawlessly as long as you keep it clean, the company stocks replacement parts, are easy to deal with, I bought it at Home Depot......but, I would stay with an experienced company for a welder, the Lincoln Weld Pac 100 retails for less than $400, and I **know** it gives good service. It acted up on me, turns out the power switch had a defect in it, I took it back to Phoenix Welding Supply where I bought it, get my Oxy-Acet, wire, stick electrodes, etc. Even though it was over two years old they slapped a new switch in it while I waited, gave it back to me with a smile, and said my favorite words "no charge....you're a steady customer"......they also deliver the full tanks of Oxy Acet to my house, at no extra charge, which is nice cause they are **big** and heavy. I **save** money dealing with them!
   Ellen - Wednesday, 03/17/04 17:35:14 EST

I create and make metal art out of 10-14 guage steel using a cnc plasma cutter and welding machine mainly. I am trying to add to my skills by learning how to acquire the rainbow look/finish on my metal artwork/objects. Not knowing what the process is called I have not had much luck finding out how to do it. Can anyone help me? Carol in Orange, TX
   Carol W - Wednesday, 03/17/04 18:15:35 EST

Hey thanks alot, I'll see if I can get a friend to find that book you mentioned. But since I live on the West coast of Canada I'm really not sure what sort of chapter I'm looking for -- any help with names would be much appreciated.
Thanks alot Walker
   - Walker - Wednesday, 03/17/04 18:25:56 EST


What province are you in?
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/17/04 18:59:51 EST

Ed long,
Was the drill you used cobalt tool steel or carbide?
I can offer the following;
Carbide tools are a waste in older, slower, non-rigid machines. Carbide needs speed, rigidity, and coolant at the point of the cut to function. The coolant needs to flash to steam to pull the extreme heat generated, and to shatter the chip. Look in the Machineries Manual for the correct speeds and feeds, and you normally need coolant.
For carbide to work well and to give best performance, in a drill, a solid, heavy duty drill press with the speeds required, and a power feed will show the difference.
Also, the hardware store carbide drills are often pretty poor, as far as carbide drills go.
Cobalt tool steel drills also need the correct speed and feeds. They are not generally run as fast as the carbides.
Most all of the premium tool materials are critical as far as speeds and feeds go, and often coolant is the critical issue. If you spend the money for the good tooling, a quick reference to the manual will be of tremendous help.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:25:46 EST

Walker, check out http://www.viblacksmiths.com/ someone on the contacts will beable to find some one near you.
   JimG - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:27:34 EST

ok, I'm back agin with more questions. Hope that's ok by all.

I need to cut holes in the side of an extruded aluminum tube, aproximatley 3/16 of an inch thick. Would a plazma cutter be able to do a good job of it? I've been using a jig saw so far, but that's a whole lot of no fun, and it makes a mess of the remaining metal. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
   - Havok TD - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:28:35 EST

Ron Childers,
I know I can preheat for a better mig weld, but as I have a 300Amp DC buzzbox, I just use that. I use the little mig for litght stuuf, and especially where a nice looking but not strenght critical weld is needed. I intend to step up to a real mig when this one fails, or I have a spare chunk of change. I have heard a lot good about Miller, and Hobart, and will also check out the lincons.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:33:49 EST

Havok TD,

Could you use a hole saw? That will give a pretty clean cut, especially if you center punch to stock to help keep the bit from wandering when you start the cut.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:43:56 EST

Unfortunatly, it's a rectangular hole. I guess I should have said that.
   - Havok TD - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:45:46 EST

guru, i dont remember asking any questions about arc welding other than TIG, which i have yet to get into. i am using a hobart MIG with pure CO2 and when the nozzle is clean, it works very well. i found out the hard way that if there is any breeze while welding (not coke), you loose the antioxidizing effects of the gas, of course, and the weld suffers. this may be one reason to use flux core.

the real question: need a good welding textbook; i have bought several books that are not very good. i like the science, but the practical technical aspects are lacking. i have not contacted any college bookstores. if you have any suggestions, i would appreciate any advice. i am focusing on TIG. all arc modalities have their preferable applications, as i am learning.
   - rugg - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:53:34 EST

Walker - Many colleges (junior & otherwise) will let young students enroll, so long as they have permission from their high school guidance counselor. See if you can get your school counselor to help you.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 03/17/04 19:54:22 EST

Susan M. Try asking here http://www.ckdforums.com/ Some of the folks over there are all about high powered belt grinders. I'd probably ask in the folder called "Tool Time with Gene Osborn and Bob Wagner"
   AwP - Wednesday, 03/17/04 20:04:46 EST

Carol W. The process that gives the rainbow effect is called tempering, you can heat the project with a propane torch or something else to a few hundred degrees and the colors will start running as the heat spreads. The colors range from light yellow, darkening to bronze, brown, then goes to purple, dark blue, and light blue. Depending on the size of your project you can get a solid color effect by putting the whole thing into an oven and let it soak to get it all an even temperature, though you'll need to experiment with your exact steel to see what to set your oven to.
   AwP - Wednesday, 03/17/04 20:18:03 EST

I am about to try my luck at removing scale using the acid bath method described on the new edge of the anvil (p121,122) and I have a choice of 4 types of acids I can use. Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and oxalic acid. Would anyone happen to know where someone can get these? As any of you ever tried these and with what results. I would also be interested in finding out how one should dispose of it once it is saturated with scale residue,...
   - Louis - Wednesday, 03/17/04 20:32:41 EST

Carol, one more thing about the oxidation colors: make sure you remove any scale created in fabrication or during the rolling of the steel (I imagine you use mostly pickled and oiled stuff?). A high polish makes the colors even more resplendant. Heat from the back or the edges if possible. Spray with water or quench it when you get the color you want. For a lesson on what can be achieved, go to www.artgawk.com. Did I get that right, Peter?
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/17/04 20:49:33 EST

Dilute sulfuric is probably the best, steel mills often use a mixture of HCl and H2SO4 to pickle with. Straight HCL, or Muratic, will put a light coat of rust on everything in your shop. Getting rid of it is a HUGE problem. That is why people use vinegar instead.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/17/04 20:52:16 EST

Havok TD, I used to make lots of rectangular holes in 1/8" thick Alu tubing when I was doing lighting components for rock shows. I cut hundreds of them with a woodworkers plunge router and a plywood template. Use a 1/2" dia carbide plunge cutting bit of no more than two flutes with cutting wax applied at least after each hole. Unplug the router to chip off any chips that get stuck to the bit. I like to use a template ring mounted on the router base so the actual template does not have to be huge. Wear hearing and eye protection. You will have a nicely finished cut with no additional work oher than a quick debur. You can certainly use the plasma cutter but expect some cleanup work.

QC, Don't waste the money on a mig if youre mostly tacking. Take Rich's advice and practice with 6013. If you send me your address I'll mail you some copper scraps for backing up those welds. Save the money for a used tig machine. Just my opinion of course.
   SGensh - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:10:22 EST

Good books on Tig welding (and every other kind of welding:
Welders Handbook- Richard Finch- Hp Books
Welding Skills- Giachino & Weeks- ATP publications

Another great book that includes info on welding, tools, bending, sheet metal, fasteners, forming sheet metal in 3d, and alloys is:
Fabricators Handbook-RonFournier-HP Books

All of these are around 20 bucks, except for welding skills- which is 64 bucks now. But older copies are often available cheaper.
All of these, like the sheet metal books I recommended earlier, are books for apprentices and students to learn from, which I find much more useful than engineering reference books, since I am not an engineer.
Plasma cutters will cut aluminum extrusions just fine. However, unless you have an extremely steady hand, expect to have to do some die grinding or filing. For cleaning up a small rectangular hole, I use the really nifty Makita 1" x 21" belt sander. It will fit into a hole about 3" or smaller, and will give you nice clean rectangular edges. But a plain old file, as long as it is pretty coarse, will work just fine on aluminum. Unlike steel, where the material is usually hardened by the plasma cut- think quick heat then air quench- aluminum does not change in hardness when plasma cut, so it is easy to clean the plasma dross off the edges.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:22:27 EST

Drill, file, drill, file, drill, file. Did I mention drilling and f iling? Plasma is **EXPENSIVE**. Your labor is cheaper at this point, I would wager... can't say for sure, though.

I am getting a lot out of this welder discussion; I just learned how to MIG and I'm considering getting my first welder soon, learning a lot! Maybe I'll get a Campbell-Hausfeld... I've seen some of those that look almost affordable for me (Grin).

Sunny and cool in Honolulu, H awaii. (Uncomfortably cool for a 600m swim!)
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:24:36 EST

Rainbow effect on sheet steel- I used to make a line of furniture, and we used this effect on some of the table tops and chair seats. It works best on relatively thin material- 16 ga works great. But I have done it succesfully on up to 3/16". A clean shiny surface is needed- when possible I would start with cold rolled. If I had to use hot rolled, I would sandblast first if possible, then sand the mill scale off with a klingspoor 50grit mop disc on a 4 1/2" grinder. This gives a nice shiny finish, pretty quick, without using acid. Then you need to use a oxy-fuel torch to put the patterns on- I often put on relatively fine patterns, swirls and paisleys, so I used a very fine tip, and adjusted for a slightly oxidizing flame. The oxy to fuel mix depends on the thickness of the material, but I found the trick is not to put too much heat into the piece, or it turns all one color of darker blue. The best looking effects came from the transition zones between heated and unheated, with a range of browns to blues to purples. Moving the torch quickly, with a small fine flame worked best for me. Practice on scrap, and see if you can get the effect you want. You can use a bigger tip, or even a rosebud, and get bigger areas of one color, but you will warp thin sheet- the bigger tips are better on thicker material
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:28:13 EST

Now why didn't I think of that? :-) thanks gensh, I'll give it a try.
   - Havok TD - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:33:32 EST

Guess I'm running off at the mouth here today...
Plasma is only expensive if you are worth nothing- If you are charging for your work, then plasma cutting is very cheap- As Guru has said on numerous occasions, a blacksmith, or other similar small metal worker had better bill for around 100grand a year if he wants to live like a clerk at a minimart. More, of course, if you want to join the middle class. To do that, shop time has to be worth at least 50 bucks an hour. My 2000$ plasma cutter paid itself off in about a month. On 16 gauge steel, I run it at 100 inches per minute. How fast can you file? I am a firm believer in using my brain, as my body is getting old and cranky, and cant compete with those chinese workers who work for 20 cents an hour. So tools that do the grunt work, so I can concentrate on the work that really benefits from an experienced hand/eye relationship, are worth every penny. Of course, I am a full time metal worker and artist, and my situation is different from a hobbyiest, but anyone who is making things to sell can benefit from eliminating grunt work. So my advice is- learn how to file, then buy a plasma cutter so you wont have to.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:37:08 EST

I like Rie's thought too, but with a twist... learned to file, get the boss to buy a plasma cutter. ;-) I haven't gotten any new tools in quite a while, anyway. I need something new to learn how to use. Wonder if he'd spring for a 3 axis laser?
   - Havok TD - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:42:32 EST

On Plasma, and aluminum. My dad ran an extrusion co for 42 years, and he used plasma to cut very exact shapes, with almost no scale at the cut by using nitrogen as the cutting gas. it does not oxidize the metal at the cut. You will get some color from the heat.
He also used two flute, solid carbide cutters at router speeds, in a cnc mill. Can you say aluminum tables for power tools for a very big, big box store with thier own brand? nice bucks, for very exact demensioned parts. The lube was straight sheeps tallow that was in sticks. Works well to lube roll taps for Al also.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:49:59 EST

Scale removal,

Louis, sulfuric acid works pretty well. You an get it from any place that sell automotive batteries as it is the active ingredient in battery electrolyte. Hydrochloric acid can be gotten at the pool supply, ask for Muriatic acid, which is about 30% HCl. Phosphoric acid is the ingredient in most metal prep solutions for painting. Some auto body supplies carry concentrated phosphoric acid. You can get most any aqcid from outfits like Van Waters and Rogers Chemical Supply if, and only if, you have a business license and a good reason. Nobody wants a lawsuit.

The only legal way to get rid of contaminated acid is to have it hauled away by a licensed HazMat handler. Expect to pay around $200 and up to get rid of 5 gallons of any "unknown" solution.

The best way to get rid of scale is to have the item bead or sand blasted. There are outfits who do this everywhere, just about, and the price isn't too bad. I would recommend that as a first choice.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:55:19 EST

Another plasma story, At my previous employer, we made very large industrial ice makers.(1500#/24 hours to 80 tons/day)
We cut polished and brushed stainless on a large CNC plasma cutter, using nitrogen in production. Gave a very nice edge, with very little color. As I remember, we did a 1000"/Minute on 10 gage SS. This machine had 4 plasma cutters, that could run at the same time. Also had a ox/act. that would burn 6" plate. The really neat item was the solenoid operated prick punchs to do layout for secondary operations. Two tables each would hold 4 to 6 full sheets.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:55:54 EST


I didn't include any sources for oxalic acid as that stuff is not only nasty on your hide, it is also darn toxic to your kidneys. I would avoid it.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/17/04 21:58:37 EST

what is the differance in coals and why some can not be used.
   doug - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:03:56 EST

Doug I belive that there are different grades of coal.
   - Andrew - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:21:45 EST

ptree, the drill bit I was using is termed cobalt ???? something or other like impregnated maybe? I paid over thirty bucks for it and didn't even get the second hole drilled before I had to touch it up on the grinder. It was a Vermont American brand, quite sure.
   Ed Long - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:29:36 EST

Guru, just a stupid little question on technique. I was just looking at your iforge demo on collaring where you demonstrate a small wrapped collar (small diameter, wrapped in multiple turns). You use a torch to do that one, but my question is, could a larger piece of metal heated, say, red hot, be used to touch against the small diameter rod to achieve the bends in place of a torch? Kind of like the old time soldering done with a soldering iron heated over a flame? I know, I should come out of the dark ages and get a torch but thus far I've survived without one and i hate to part with the pennies.
   Ed Long - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:37:36 EST

Doug, Some types of coal are not suitable for forge use. You may Also want to check under the Anvil Fire faqs. In this day some types of coal are also more harder find as the supplys deminsh and cost goes up.
   - Billy - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:39:09 EST

Doug If you go into the Faqs page you will find a variety off posts on coaland charcaol, from the Gurus.
   - Billy - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:43:07 EST

Thanks for the info on the rainbow effect in metal working. You've all been a big help.
   Carol W - Wednesday, 03/17/04 22:57:45 EST

Doug most any coal CAN be used to forge with, each is different and requires different skills and expectations. Cheap high sulfur soft coal is hard to tend, has tons of volitales, stinks (literaly and figuratively:-) and is bad for your steel and a bad for you, but a lot of people use it anyway, because it is cheap and readily available in many areas... Anthracite or hard coal is hard to start and hard to keep going if you aren't used to it, but once you get the hang of using it works just fine (but you need to keep the air on it...) Argueably the best coal for blacksmithing is Pocahontas #3, which is a soft coal, but cokes out well and clumps well, and generally doesn't produce a ton of clinker. Fire tending is a skill, and you need to develop your skills for each type of coal (freinds don't let freinds use cheap soft coal, They hook you up with some good stuff:-)

Then there is charcoal, and coke which burn differently as well, but make excellent solid fuels for forges:-)
   Fionnbharr - Thursday, 03/18/04 00:04:56 EST

I'm a fan of charcoal (with a little bit of wood suppliment) myself, it's very hassle free. No clinkers, it's not stinky and smokey, and the ash is good forge lining that won't hurt the steel.
   AwP - Thursday, 03/18/04 00:10:24 EST

Thanks for you help on the Japanese chisels questions guys, your right, I had read those names (white stee, blue steel) in a catalogue, and had never heard of them before either.

Thanks again.

   Ben - Thursday, 03/18/04 02:32:42 EST

Susan M;
I built my own 5 hp belt sander with an 8 by 72" belt. I had no plans and only a vague idea of what i was doing. The first version was built from junk at little cost except for an absurd number of hours. After several years the junk finished wearing out and I rebuilt it with expensive rollers and bearings and it finally works quite well...but, in retrospect, it would have been cheaper to buy a good one to begin with. It's a matter of available $, materials and talent. My small talent wasn't enough to make up for the other 2
Rugg: try an argon-CO2 (75%-25%) mixed gas and you'll get less spatter with your MIG but a bit less penetration...I kick up the gas flow rate for breezy conditions..keeping a short arc helps a lot too.
Welding books..Lincoln sells it's big general welding manual at what must be cost...a good deal for the classic reference. Keep your nozzle clean now.
Carol W; a last tip....the steel to be colored has to be completely clean and the better the polish, the better the effect...note that it is a transient finish....OOPs ,Quenchcrack beat me to it...again....The website he was so kind as to refer you to is
There are people who actually sort of paint with a small torch this way. Bring the heat up slowly...it's a little like water colors...fast and you only get one chance.
On reflection, I wonder if the rainbow effect you refer to isn't a result of cutting with an oxy-fuel torch on polished steel?
   - Pete F - Thursday, 03/18/04 03:06:12 EST

I'm off to Jamestown tomorrow for Military Through the Ages (MTA), and I have a Departmental presentation today, so I've been on skimming mode! At MTA I'll have the early medieval forge set up for the "Anglo-Saxon Armory" in the "Age of Arthur" demonstrating what we know about A.D. 554. Small camp this year, only six or eight of us ("...'twas the cough took some of us off this last Wulf-Monath"). Might crank out some more spearheads using an alternate forging method, or further explore the mysteries of the Anglo-Saxon shield boss.

Catch up with y'all on Monday- please feel free to stop by (they charge :-( and say hello.

Jamestown Settlement (NOT the National Park Service site):

Jamestown NPS site: www.nps.gov/colo/

Go viking (and sometimes hang out with other migration-era folks): www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/18/04 09:05:39 EST

Ed Long, Wrapped collar. Heat conduction from hot metal to cold metal is sometimes slower than a snail on crutches. I have tempered tools that way and even with a relatively large hot block, it takes a while to get tempering colors. You might think about using a blow torch. The idea is to get a tight wrap with no gaps. If there are any gaps, you sometimes need to buck the work with maybe a hammer head and tap the wrap with another hammer, the latter being rawhide or wood.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/18/04 09:15:57 EST

Susan, I dont have the www address, but if you search under "KMG" grinders you will find a very helpful site. The mans name is rob frink and he sells the most bullet proof belt grinders known to man kind! He is also very helpful towards those wishing to design and build their own, as he will sell you the parts needed.In actual layout his grinder is like a super-duty bader on steroids and growth hormone.I have a top of the line burr-king and my friend's KMG just out performs it in every way. Ironbasher
   ironbasher - Thursday, 03/18/04 09:38:03 EST

Rob's KMG grinders are from www.beaumontmetalworks.com and, as ironbasher says, are the best available. A lot cheaper than the big names, too, plus Rob's a nice guy who makes knives himself. The grinders are sold without motors, so adding one is expected. You don't need a five-horse, though, I couldn't bog down a one-horse KMG this past weekend roughing the scale off a tomahawk head.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 03/18/04 10:10:54 EST

I have a Lincoln weld pack also, runs off 110, use argon/co2 mix gas, it is stupendous. We have welded thicker stock with proper prep and careful attention to weld penetration, but alas, I am going to upgrade to 220 based MIG outfit. I would rather work most of our larger stuff in one pass.ie our SMIII stand, the air hammer project... and I have 220 wired in my shop. It is a great little machine though, and the kit we bought came with the shielding gas regulator for about 400.oo. worth every penny, and have sold it for near that pending getting the 220 rig.

As to Japanese chisles, I have a set of "white steel" and they have consistenly out performed every other type in my hands, even while marathon chopping dovetails in 2" white oak. I think the other tools, while high quality were HSS though. I just got some O1 rod, and am going to make a mortise chisle to see if it can match the laminated Japanese tools. More on that experiment as data comes in.

Some time back FineWoodworking did a comparison of several woodworking chisles, and the Japanese laminated steel won hands down. It was a good review, and they had cost comparison as well as I recal.
   RFraser - Thursday, 03/18/04 10:39:34 EST

No. the rainbow effect I am trying to acquire involves the entire metal piece. Most of the items I have seen and really like are finished in mostly brown tones throughout with hints of purples and blues. I think I am using too much heat too fast from what you are saying. I have polished up the metal real good before applying the heat but all I have accomplished so far is the blues and purples with a hint of browns on the very edges. Perhaps more oxygen in my gas mix would help also. Back to the experimenting table.
   Carol W - Thursday, 03/18/04 10:56:32 EST

Carol, make a bunch of sample strips and put them in your home oven. Set the heat to 300 degF and when to temp bump it by 25 deg, let it come up to temp and remove a sample continue until you max out the oven.

Doing a piece in the shop you can used a sand pan with a fairly small heat source to get more even colouring.

   - Thomas Powers - Thursday, 03/18/04 11:45:40 EST

Cast Iron Repairs: Jim, on antique equipment repairs can completely negate any cash value. I am afraid that is how it is in your case.

"No 52 Antique post drill" had a broken feed arm with two missing parts when you bought it (the broken part and pawl).

The table on these is very thin and a very difficult cast iron repair. Due to the load the part sees I would not try to repair it. A replacement will need to be made. Cost, at a machine shop at least three times what you paid for the drill.

"No 151 post drill" was missing the feed arm, feed paw, feed paw spring, table and table arm and possibly other parts.

The broken gear MIGHT be able to be repaired but it is going to take the better part of a day to weld, file and refit. However, since the machine does not have the feed arm mechanism the gear does not need to work, I just needs to be round and such that you can put on a hand crank. In any case the drill now has negative value.

Both these machines are probably going to need new thrust bearings due to rust. The only replacement bearings I have found that fit require remachining the end of the feed screw and redrilling of the spindle. . . It has been 30 years since I made these repairs and I cannot remember the details. But it requires the time of a machinist if you cannot do the work yourself.

I would return both of these for a complete refund including shiping both ways. Both are only good for parts and would usualy sell for $25 or less in their current condition IF you had machines that needed the remaining parts. In this case the most often broken parts are missing or broken.

The vast majority of damage to all machinery is moving damage. Poor rigging, bad handling, improper packing. I have had a variety of machine with moving damage and the repairs have always been very time consuming. Machines that had some value can become scrap iron in an instant of stupidity. Antique machinery with missing parts needs to be looked at VERY closely and turned down when you cannot make all the replacement parts yourself.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/18/04 11:47:56 EST

Rainbow Colors: Carol, Temper colors are what got me into blacksmithing. They are tricky to create on large surfaces. The vast majority of artistic sculptural pieces with temper colors are made of Titanium. TI takes on tremondously brilliant temper colors from heating. It also is slow to oxidize under normal conditions so the colors stay bright. Jewelery is often made of Ti for this reason.

Temper coloring on steel starts with the best possible pollished surface and absolute cleanlines. The colors are created by slight oxidation. Overheating "burns out" the color creating a dull grey scale that must be mechanicaly removed to start over.

To create temper colors on large pieces requires VERY even heating. It is best to use an oven if you want large areas of color. After coloring a large area at a low heat you can then create variations with a torch and a soft flame. Heat from the back and let the air do the coloring.

Fancy marbled case hardening blue as used on shot gun recievers (my Holy grail that got me started) is created on perfectly clean polished metal that is heated in the absence of oxygen in a case hardening box and then dumped into a water tank with air bubbling through it. As the metal cools the air creates temper colors at varying temperatures. It is a fine art and requires a lot of experiance. This process only works on small parts that can be easily handled and gotten from case to bath without exposure to air.

In the end temper blues on steel is a transient finish. Unless the metal is coated with oil or lacquer to protect it the finish oxidizes and rusts to where the color is rust brown and all is lost.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/18/04 12:03:08 EST

MIG Welding: Rugg, MIG welding also takes practice. The machines will make beautiful beads with absolutely no penertation if run too cool. MIG will also lay a worthless bead on a surface if the surface is not clean metal. MIG WILL burn through thin scale if run hot enough but will not burn through thick scale. In all cases the oxygen in the scale is released by the heat of the arc and foamy welds are the result. Rust does the same and paint worse.

MIG is good for production work on clean metal. Otherwise standard stick welding is much more flexible. E6011 rods will weld through paint, rust and scale. They often make a lousy looking bead in unskilled hands BUT they stick parts together better than anything.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/18/04 12:10:26 EST

CSI Members: Jock has added a "Business Forum" in the members section to continue discussion of preserving anvilfire and possible incorporation, and electing non profit status.

CSI Non Members: Jock and the rest who support this site could use some new blood. $1 a week to keep this site going is the best bargain on the face of the planet!
   Ellen - Thursday, 03/18/04 15:37:39 EST

Eye protection.

People based in the UK may find these 2 websites helpful. I've just ordered a faceshield with filter shade 1.75 and shade 3 visors.


   Bob G. - Thursday, 03/18/04 15:53:01 EST

I am looking for a supplier of a forced air natural gas forge with automatic shutoff for a school. I have tried NC and Mankel with limited success. Any advice or direction would be appreciated.
   phil benjamin - Thursday, 03/18/04 16:24:49 EST

Forge: Phil, The only maker of small forges of that type is Johnson. Check with Centaur Forge (on our drop down list under advertisers).
   - guru - Thursday, 03/18/04 16:54:34 EST

More anvil questions....
First, thanks for the anvil grinding tips. It's nice and smooth now. The face pitting seems to have been caused by some kind of hole punch, like for leather or gaskets. Upon grinding down a bit, almost all the pits turned out to have a crescent moon shape to them. They're mostly gone. And it looks great and gives me the finish I need.
While grinding out the bigger side chips and dressing the sides of the face, I noticed that there seems to be some delamination of the hardened steel face from the wrought iron body. But, only in the area of the chips. Could this have been caused by missing the work with a large hammer? Or, is it a normal thing for this type of anvil? It doesn't seem to affect the performance of the anvil. Will it eventually cause the hardened steel face to completely delaminate? Or will it just stay as it is? Until I whack the face with something ridiculously heavy and hard?
Thanks! Kay
PS - This anvil is a 180lb. Peter Wright.
   Kay - Thursday, 03/18/04 17:59:54 EST


It is probably as you suspected, a result of the chipping. I wouldn't expect it to spread, but you should keep an eye on it.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/18/04 18:07:32 EST

There was a book that came with the Miller Synchrowave machines (tig and stick) at work that I looked at one night while helping someone work late and thought, this book is fantastic. Can't think of the title now. Maybe your friendly Miller dealer would know of it?

   Steve A - Thursday, 03/18/04 20:37:15 EST

ries, you are the man..thanks for the book tip///
   rugg - Thursday, 03/18/04 21:06:45 EST

Have you considered seeing if you local welders supply has any trade-ins for sale? Seen a couple of decent deals, just not at the right time. By the way, I get the Tweeco parts for my weld-pac at my welders supply, better variety and price. Same on the wire. I buy wire in 10# rolls, and it is really .023", whereas lincohn lists it as .028" which is an odd size. works great, and saves money. The weld-pac needs an adapter to hold the big reels.
   ptree - Thursday, 03/18/04 21:29:43 EST

Visible Weld Line: The joint between steel plate and body on an anvil is often visible. A perfect weld forge is almost invisible but they still show up from wear and corrosion. Slightly imperfect welds have a trail of slag and such that leaves a line even in a tight weld.

Heavy chipping of edges is common from the use of sledges on an anvil. Where a smith can accidentaly strike the edge many times a sledge will knock of a big chip the first time.

When the edge is hit hard enough to chip it the soft wrought under the plate is ocassionaly deformed permanently and when the steel springs back it leaves a visible crack. It is generally not a problem unless someone just keeps wacking away at it. You CAN reduce an anvil to scrap with a big sledge hammer and enough abuse.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/18/04 23:22:59 EST

I've uploaded a photo of my size ten flypress to the gallery. The flyarm is 53" inches across, the small green flyarm that I'm holding is off a size 6 press.
   Bob G. - Friday, 03/19/04 08:14:49 EST

Susan, If your boyfriend really likes to maske things, get him a copy of Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop. Grinders are really simple. But 5 HP? You can use a caster wheel, but a rubber tired knife maker's wheel is a good investment.
   Ron childers - Friday, 03/19/04 08:40:49 EST

Bob G.,

That thing is HUGE!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/19/04 08:43:45 EST

i may be in danville, Va in a couple weeks i'd like to drop by and see you, i see gladys is only an 1 and half north
   ironworker - Friday, 03/19/04 09:52:49 EST

IW contact me by mail and closer to the time. I have detailed directions.
   - guru - Friday, 03/19/04 09:58:45 EST

5HP grinder: Susan, This is a great size for a heavy duty belt grinder of say 6" belt width. HOWEVER, It will need to be a seriously well engineered machine. The edges of belts act like a saw and can take off fingers, a hand or an arm in fractions of a second. Good metal pullies, bearings a stout tracking adjustment system and full guards are absolutely required. It is not a machine to be designed or built by an amature. Not at 5 HP.

   - guru - Friday, 03/19/04 10:03:35 EST

Hi guru my question is: I have a champion hand crank #400 forge blower Do you know what type of lubrcation or oil I should be useing in the crank case??

Thanks Danny
   Danny Young - Friday, 03/19/04 14:06:04 EST


I used 30 wt motor oil in mine.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/19/04 14:24:06 EST

I have an interest in how the balance cock for 17th century british pocket watches were made and who made them. I do know they were made of brass and then pierced in intricare designs and engraved. The workmanship is amazing but I cant find any info in the horological literature. Can you point me in the right direction.

Thank You
   Joel Shugar - Friday, 03/19/04 14:27:55 EST

hi-im trying to find a company that would make minuture 6 to 10 inch replicas of the 7 foot tall gray rider monument statue that stands in front of the ny state police academy, albany ny--i would like replicas to be made of bronze, pewter, or fiberglass/bronze reasin combo.........any leads would be appreciated....paul
   PAUL - Friday, 03/19/04 14:39:26 EST

Paul Richter; Go to the Thomas Register and look up "art foundries" or "art castings" in the Albany area.
   3dogs - Friday, 03/19/04 14:56:02 EST

I use bar oil in my blower. 30 just did not seem to work as well for me.
   Ralph - Friday, 03/19/04 15:13:52 EST

I am in the process of permiting an 600 unit old fashion village with retail stores and homes above. You have to drive threw an industrial area to enter the site and I would like to find an old salvaged gate or entrenance way the sets this developement apart from the area. Any ideas?
   Mary - Friday, 03/19/04 16:18:13 EST

Paul, check out rebeccasculpts.com. (Rebecca Childers Caleel) She made the statues of the Lincoln - Douglas debates
   Ron childers - Friday, 03/19/04 16:31:07 EST


Those parts, and all the others, were made by watchmakers. You can read a bit about the process, and learn a good amount about the politics of the Royal Society of Science in Britain, by reading a terrific book entitled The Illustrated Longitude by Dava Sobel and William J.H. Andrews. A fascinating read about the life and work of John Harrison, the man who finally invented a timepiece capable of sufficient accuracy to aid navigation. Admittedly, this all occurred in the beginning of the 18th century, but if you are interested in horology, you should find it worthwhile.

Basically, small parts are made by drilling and sawing with fine jewelers' tools, the engraving done with hand burins. It takes good training, a keen eye, a steady hand and lots of patience, but it can be done remarkably well.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/19/04 17:34:56 EST

Mary- There are antique dealers who import ironwork from Europe, and depending on where you are in the country, you may be able to find one near you. But this would not have any relationship to the industrial history of your neighborhood. What you really need is to hire an artist/blacksmith, and commission them to build you a gate. That gate could incorporated salvaged metalwork, or could be designed from scratch to suggest the industrial heritage, or any other motif you wanted. For gates or entranceways, you will get what you pay for, and you will benefit from hiring a professional. Just as you want a professional plumber, carpenter, or electrician, you will find you get a much better result when you hire a professional metalworker. Yes, you could just buy some scrap metal and put it at the entrance to your project, but that is exactly what it will look like- scrap metal.
First- be realistic in expecting to pay for your entranceway metalwork- it will be the first thing the public sees, and and a major identifying feature for your project, and you should think of it as being worth at least as much as a sign or architectural detail would be. In fact, if you get a good artist/blacksmith to design and build it for you, it will be worth more than you pay for it, as it will be an attraction and identifier to make people remember your project, and distinguish it from other, more pedestrian projects.
Where is your project? There are artist/blacksmiths doing this kind of work everywhere in the country, and we can help steer you to one. In addition, they usually will know the best scrapyards where actual industrial salvage is to be found, and can probably save you money and time as opposed to just having your general contractor trying to hack something together.
   ries - Friday, 03/19/04 18:29:26 EST

Anvilfire: I have spent hours here, reading and learning. I've looked thru the Iforge demo's and even made some of the things there. I've learned a lot about many things, even if they don't pertain to the things I work on. I've had many questions answered here. I have gained knowledge. At first I didn't join CSI. It's kinda hard to pay for something you can get for free. But if I look at all the hours of reading that I have done here, if that had been books, I would have spent a ton of money. And without support, this site may not always be here. I have been given many free lessons by other blacksmiths, and supporting this site is one way for me to pay them back. And it also helps to perserve an ancient art, and pass along it's rich history. So why not join CSI and help keep this site alive? Ask yourselves how many times you have visited this site, and how much you have learned. Isn't that worth something?
   Bob H - Friday, 03/19/04 19:02:41 EST


You might want to contact Jim Michaels at The House of Time in Gettysburg Pa. www.watchmaker.net He can and has made all the parts and pieces for watches from the 17th to 20th century. He is a man who could definately help you.
   Myke - Friday, 03/19/04 19:06:28 EST

In my hand crank blowers, that are in an unheated shop, I use automatic transmission oil. It has better lubricity, and anti-wear additives than common motor oil. It also has much better low temp spec's and as it has almost twice the viscosity index of motor oil it holds its visicosity well over a large range of temp's. It is probably not that important, as the original oils used wern't near as good as todays, but as my blower has lasted maybe a hundred years, I think that with the better oil, it may last another hundred.
   ptree - Friday, 03/19/04 20:44:08 EST

what has happend to the iforge?
is there a reason that there are no new posts?
   rowan - Friday, 03/19/04 20:45:26 EST


Jock just has too darn much to do!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/19/04 21:19:38 EST

ries, can I print your last post for my retail outlet owners? On the button. I tell folks all the time "You can get a 2 dollar steak, but it ain't really steak".
   Gronk - Friday, 03/19/04 21:22:36 EST

Rowan, the Iforge is fine I belive! ONe little Problem is ok with the site becaue it is always a good help
   - Billy - Friday, 03/19/04 21:31:07 EST

Paw Paw, Jock takes care of the Iforge??
   - Billy - Friday, 03/19/04 21:34:12 EST

Bob H: Thank you! Anvilfire is at a crossroads, and needs all the support it can get. Check the Members Business Forum for details.
   Ellen - Friday, 03/19/04 22:31:26 EST


Yes, along with everything else at anvilfire. Even when someone else does the demo, Jock has to do the illustrations.

CSI is trying (at Jock's suggestion) to work out a way to get him some help.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/20/04 01:15:56 EST

I want to start blacksmithing but i need to find out if there are any insurance issues in the NJ area i should worry about . I am in a non-rural area and have lots of open ground.
   Fred Atkinson - Saturday, 03/20/04 09:51:22 EST


Check with the guys at the New Jersey Blacksmith Association.

You can contact them at:

   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/20/04 10:22:58 EST

Where is the CSI link?? Those are the guys who're helping out Guru, right? I checked the main page, links page, and drop down menus, and couldn't see it.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 03/20/04 15:39:19 EST

oops, never mind, I'm just blind. sorry.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 03/20/04 15:43:50 EST

Gronk- you are welcome to do what you will with my rantings. I always have more.
   ries - Saturday, 03/20/04 16:20:53 EST

Has anyone here actually made charcoal? I want to pick your brains for a minute
   Ed Long - Saturday, 03/20/04 19:54:33 EST

One more question, for all.... I've been mig welding for a few years, and have been having trouble with porosity in my aluminum welds. the metal is clean, gas flow is good, but for the life of me I can figure out why I can't seem to get a solid weld....any thoughts would be appreciated.
   - HavokTD - Saturday, 03/20/04 19:58:38 EST

Ed, I haven't made charcoal, but some folks have....the general idea is you build a "house" out of concrete blocks, just stacked, and have a couple of barrels in which you place the wood to become charcoal. These barrels need to have a pipe outlet which extends under the barrels, with holes drilled in the pipe to provide for the volatiles to be part of the combustion process...then you build a fire under the barrels and let nature take its course. I think a sheet metal roof laid across the stacked concrete block walls will add to the efficiency of the process. There is a website which describes this, with pictures, but the URL eludes me at the moment...horse threw me this afternoon, have an ice bag on my head, but still seeing stars.....grrr!!
   Ellen - Saturday, 03/20/04 20:20:42 EST

I have made charcoal a few times with a few different methods. Wha'cha 'wanna know?
   Shack - Saturday, 03/20/04 21:40:08 EST


The easiest retort system Ihave seen is the one Ellen mentioned you can find it here...
   Myke - Saturday, 03/20/04 21:40:59 EST

Sometimes you can find and pick up charcoal at old forest fire burns.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/20/04 22:22:01 EST

Fluid Film
Is the oldest anti-rust agent in the world and one of the better ones. Long used by navies around the world. It is lanolin from sheep's wool and if bought in a spray can, mixed with a solvent that evaporates rapidly. Not as good as Boeshield but infinitely better than WD-40. You can buy lanolin from a good local pharmacy and mix it up with a solvent yourself, then paint it on. In many areas, it is difficult to find but it is a stock items at JD dealers and Case-IH dealers. Even the suburban equipment dealers are likely to stock it.
   - dloc - Saturday, 03/20/04 23:30:19 EST

Sorry to hear about the horse Ellen. I've had a few run-in's with the equine persuasion myself (and still bear the scars). What I'm wondering about the charcoal is how dry the wood should be to start with (should it burn fast or slow) and how long should it be left covered before opening? I know grandfather made charcoal for his forge, but he died when I was 7 so I don't remember much about him. Besides that he'd been crippled years before and hadn't smithed since the fifties. But Father said he Stacked his wood on end, then wrapped sheet metal around it once it was burning and buried the whole set up in sand except for a vent at the top.
   Ed Long - Saturday, 03/20/04 23:40:39 EST

The principle behind making charcoal is to burn hot with just enough oxygen to keep it smoldering but not enough to create a true flame. Any organic material can be made into charcoal. The heat is turning wood fiber cellulose into carbon. The finer the carbon the faster the burn. I have made charcoal from corn stalk, cobs, old bluejeans(charcloth) for starting fires, to oak, mesquite and softwood like pine and cypress. Wet wood takes longer to start volitles gases to release, evaporateing the water instead of turptine but it will work. It is best to wait until the wood is completely consumed and cooled. If you were to open the container too soon the vapor would flash burn and start turning the charcoal to ash. Making charcoal is a fun and involded learning process but worth the effort.
   Myke - Sunday, 03/21/04 00:19:48 EST

Hey guys... I have been making utility blades on and off for many years, however I reciently discovered an article in Wayne Goddards book The WEonder of Knife Making on page 137. He talks about using the same steel that he made the blade out of as the welding rods to attach the guard.
He just cuts it into strips 1/16 thick.
I have no idea at all about this welding method.
I am fimiliar with Braze, arc and mig welding, however i have not a clue with this. Can anyone out there give me a leg up on this!

Thanks for your trouble.
Ben In Sydney.
   Ben Do - Sunday, 03/21/04 02:12:46 EST

Ed Long,

If you do a Google search for "colliery" you should find some articles on the making of charcoal by different methods. Your grandfather's method is very much like the method that was used for hundreds of years in Europe and North America. Historic sites such as Hopewell Furnace in PA have exhibits regarding charcoaling (colliery) in the Revolutionary War period. It was the timbering of millions of acres of forests for charcoal to run bloomeries and smelters that depleted forests all over Europe and the US and lead to the switch to mineral coal, as I understand.

Wood is a carbohydrate, and most any carbohydrate, whether it is wood or day old bread can be charcoaled. The primary elements of carbohydrates are Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. The object of the exerciseis to drive off or consume the Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen wand end up with as nearly pure Carbon as you can.

Nature does it by decomposition (composting). Add pressure and time, say under a few thousand feet of silt and water for a million years, and you get mineral coal.

When making charcoal by your Grandfather's method, the wood is stacked as you described, leaving an open core to act as a chimney. Then the pile is fired from that core and banked around the outside. Your Grandfather used tin and sand for banking, while the early settlers used dirt. The fire must then be vented just enough to allow combustion to continue, but with as little oxygen as possible. This is the art of colliery, hitting the right balance between keeping the fire burning and not burning up the carbon. Many colliers were killed or injured while climbing their piles to clear the vent and shake down the heap. A large pile make take several days or more to finish becoming charcoal, and requires careful tending to achieve the maximum yield.

The more modern method is to heat the wood in a sealed container until the O, H and N are removed, leaving the carbon. A steel drum "retort" allows the wood gases to be evaporated off and returned to the outside fire to aid the burn. An important point to remember is that, once the wood gas has finished boiling off, and no more flames can be seen where the pipe vents the retort, the retort should be closed to finish the burn. Once the volatiles are driven out of the wood, the less oxygen that can enter, the better. At that point, all heat must be supplied externally if you are to achieve the maximum yield from the process. You don't want to be burning the charcoal, yo want to be "baking" it in the drum.

The drier the wood is to start, the faster it can be turned to charcoal, as the water in the wood takes calories to turn to steam and remove. Green wood can gbe charcoaled, but it is less efficient than starting with dry wood.

Whether we are using coal, coke, charcoal or propane, we are relying on the combustion of carbon for our heat.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/21/04 02:37:30 EST


Either oxy-acetylene gas welding or Tungsten-Inert Gas (TIG) welding requires the use of a filler rod. To match the composition of the base metal more accurately, pieces of the same metal can be introduced into the weld puddle as filler. MIG welding uses the wire as filler, and stick arc welding uses the welding electrode as filler. Brazing uses brass as a filler/adhesive.

When using high-alloy metal as filler, it is important to eliminate oxidizing heat as much as possible to avoid burning the alloying elements out of the weld area.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/21/04 02:45:17 EST

Ed Long, thanks for the condolences on my equine experience, but that is part of owning a Thoroughbred.....the main injury was to my (oversized) ego.....grin! What was it they used to say in German officers school "That which does not kill me, makes me strong". I'll get a saddle on him in the morning (no more bareback while he's feeling frisky, and we'll resolve the issue of who is boss (grin!)....the ice bag helped immensely.

   Ellen - Sunday, 03/21/04 07:51:09 EST

Howdy, Im new to blacksmithing and computers so bear with me.I have coal forge and thru trial and error seem to be geting along with it.I want to build a gas forge to speed up my work have bought the ABANA plans. Are there other plans[simpler]I might get,I fool around with building small gates,ornamental,and mainly what I feel like making at that time.I have a background in fabrication fairly well equipped[welding etc.]and a lot of patience[ya right].Im pretty serious about equipment and have started to gather material to build atreadle hammer I like the vertical motion hammer,anywayIve rambled enough just trying to give you folks a little background on me,thanks for any direction you can give.Brent.
   Brent - Sunday, 03/21/04 13:12:01 EST

Brent, if you go to http://www.google.com/ and search for propane forge plans you'll get tons of choices. However, propane forges are most efficient at small sizes, if you're making gates and ornamental ironwork I think it will be alot more expensive to do it with propane. If you're also forging smaller items then the propane would be a good choice for them. I definately reccomend keeping the coal forge after you make your propane one.
   AwP - Sunday, 03/21/04 13:44:07 EST

Gas Forge Plans: See our planfile (plans page). The simple burner article has links to others including the Rin Reil page. Ron has designs that WORK. There are many others around that do not.

Before building, STUDY what Ron and others have to say. If you stick to known designs it will work. But is you wnat do go your own way then you will need to know all the details of burner size vs. forge and such.

We sell both Kaowool and ITC-100 to help you build your gas forge.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/21/04 14:11:32 EST

Making Charcoal: See our coal/charcoal FAQ. There are several methods listed. Lots of folks make their own.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/21/04 14:25:15 EST

What is the name of the silver solder that matches brass and where can I get it? Is there a copper solder that matches? I make jewelry. Thanks.
   Sweetie - Sunday, 03/21/04 14:43:03 EST


First you need to know the alloy of the brass or copper you are joining, otherwise it's just a guess. Jewelry supply catalogs like Rio Grande sell a BUNCH of different alloys of solder, each designed to end up a specific color. Some colors come in different temperature ranges, even.

A quick but risky way to mach an odd allow is use very tiny chunks or even filings of that same alloy mixed with anhydrous borax as a brazing compound. The fine fluxed particles will melt at a slightly lower temp than the bigger sections. Be careful though, as soon as the "solder" starts running take the heat off, or you'll melt you main piece.
   Alan-L - Sunday, 03/21/04 15:36:49 EST

Dear Sweetie...Oh brother! Solder/Braze, Your welding supply brazing rod is alloyed to melt at about 1600F, and that is lower than some other brasses. See if you can do a test piece; it just might work.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/21/04 15:56:35 EST

I am a blacksmithing student at Northern Michigan University, finishing my fourth and final year. I was wondering if you could tell me some quick rust patinas. Im looking for a fairly consistent orange/red, and I need something that works within about ten days of application. Also, any information you could pass on to me about finishing such a rusted surface would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.
   Michael Rossi - Sunday, 03/21/04 16:46:57 EST

Thanks guru andAwP Ill read up and now I have aplace to start.Im sure Ill be back,Im no rocket scientist.Thanks for your replies.Brent
   Brent - Sunday, 03/21/04 17:17:14 EST


It sounds like you might have gotten Boraxo, instead of Borax. They are both in the laundry section of you supermarket, and Boraxo will NOT work as a flux.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/21/04 17:21:21 EST

Quick Rust: Michael, Chlorox bleach does the trick in a hurry (only hours or a few days). In all chemical treatment you need to be sure the surface is clean and the same finish. If you want an even color then you must have and even surface texture. Finishing with coarse sand paper or sandblasting produces a uniform finish.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/21/04 18:34:26 EST

Anyone ever use Hydrogen Peroxide to form surface rust?
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/21/04 19:45:47 EST

QC, I have tried it but not had much luck. It is so unstable that it loses the free oxygen very fast, much to the air. I suspect that higher concentrations than what is typicaly available may work better than what I experianced.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/21/04 19:58:22 EST

quenchcrack, A friend of mine used Hydrogen Peroxide a while back. I don't think it formed to much surface rust. But you could always try it out.
   - Steven - Sunday, 03/21/04 20:23:10 EST


I've tried it, using the 30 volume stuff that hairbenders use for bleaching blondes. It works pretty poorly, compared to Clorox or urine. I suspect, like Jock, that the free oxygen is just to quick to dissipate before combining with the Fe. For a 10-day rust, a sawdust box wetted with urine works fine, if fragrantly. It is, however, very traditional. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/21/04 21:12:13 EST

QVENCHVS CRACKVS, I've found on several occasions that just about any piece of iron in the same room with a loosely capped bottle of hydrochloric will rust up pretty well.}:<)3dogs
   3dogs - Sunday, 03/21/04 21:18:04 EST

Quenchcrack - I have used Hydrogen Peroxide. Have had poor results with product that has been opened for awile. Have had better results with a newly opened bottle. Have had MUCH better results with other products such as Clorox and saltwater. Superquench works well also.
   - gerald - Sunday, 03/21/04 21:35:39 EST

Quechcrack and Guru - (General Information) as I was leaving AKSteel's Butler PA works in Jan of 2001 they were pioneering the commercial use of concentrated hydrogen peroxide to pickle stainless steel. Mostly 400 series, but some 300 and PH grades on a final anneal and pickle line. Note - the hydrogen peroxide available from pharmacies is a very dilute product. I believe we were using about a 30% solution. We were replacing nitric acid to minimize discharge of nitrates into the local water system
   - Gavainh - Monday, 03/22/04 00:11:59 EST

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