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

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

This is an archive of posts from March 22 - 31, 2004 on the Guru's Den
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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

Rugg, A welding book I like is Richard Finch, "Welder's Handbook", HP Books, 1997. It is an easy to read, large paperback and well illustrated. It has good info on MIG, TIG, arc, and oxy.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/22/04 01:10:17 EST

Rossi, Swimming pool chlorine is a rust maker.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/22/04 01:18:18 EST

Speaking of H2O2 (peroxide) having once upon a time worked in the feild briefly, let me tell you that you DO NOT want to play with stong concetrations of peroxide with out serious thought. Most folks remember acids are bad, but think peroxide is like teh .02% solution they have in the medicne cabinet.
Stonge H2O2 WILL ete you alive..... and fast. Also gloves and such that laugh at sulphuric and other acids seem to get instant dry rot with H2O2....
Just a small warning...... Use all these solutions with care, they ARE on the haz lists and such for a reason
   Ralph - Monday, 03/22/04 03:13:07 EST

Paul, I forgot to mention;the statues Rececca made of Lincoln and Douglas are in Ottawa, Il.
   Ron childers - Monday, 03/22/04 08:53:53 EST

I am looking for someone who is very knowledgeable with smithing. I've started smithing and i have never worked with metal before but i've got a very big drive for this. I'm building my own shop to work in, im ordering all the tools i believe i'll need to start off with, anvil, vice, forge, etc... I am looking for advice and also there are a lot of things id like to know, such as: The vocabulary for blacksmithing (I looked at Anvilfire's Glossary page but there was a lot of stuff that wasn't on there. I need to know what certain things do, how the work and things along those lines.) I also need to find a place where i can buy materials metal wise. If you can help me please send me an e-mail at Ncdiver@charter.net
   Danaan - Monday, 03/22/04 13:41:31 EST

Have you ever done any bluing of you metals? If so, how do you go about it, and is there any other places to look for information on blued steel?
   Kris - Monday, 03/22/04 14:19:50 EST

KRIS; If it's a relatively small item you wish to blue, I'd recommend any large sporting goods store's gun supplies department. Gun bluing is essentially what you're looking for. Good luck, 3dogs
   3dogs - Monday, 03/22/04 14:26:14 EST

Danaan- Everything worth doing takes work. Learning to blacksmith takes work as well. Physical work, like teaching your body how to hammer. And mental work, like reading, researching, and even memorizing. First, you should join the Abana chapter or blacksmithing guild nearest you. These are listed on this site, In fact, I was wrong. First, you should thoroughly read everything on this site. Almost everything you need to start out is here, including lists of books you should buy. I would recommend buying and studying several books about blacksmithing before you spend a lot of money on equipment. You will have a better idea of which areas interest you, and what equipment is appropriate. And after you join you local guild or group, go to meetings, talk to people, watch demos, and study. Consider going to a bigger blacksmithing conference like the quad states, which is held yearly, or the upcoming abana conference, which is only held every two years, and is going to be in Richmond Kentucky this July. Again and again we hear young people saying "there are no blacksmiths in my area". This is almost never true. There are active blacksmithing groups, and individual blacksmiths, almost everywhere in the US.
there is probably one very near you, and almost all blacksmiths are very willing to help geniune interested beginners.
As far as materials go, look in your yellow pages under steel, recycling, and scrap metal and then go to the places listed, and see what small scraps and cutoffs you can find.
   ries - Monday, 03/22/04 14:44:29 EST

Can you tell me a method of making a corkscrew? Have tried wrapping tool steel round welding rod and an old drill bit! No luck.
   Andy - Monday, 03/22/04 14:57:13 EST

Danaan, Currently our glossary assumes you have read a book or two on the subject. There are hundreds to chose from, see our getting started article and book review page.

Outside of the blacksmithing suppliers which advertise here most of what you need comes from industrial supply wharehouses who require you to have knowledge of their product and how to purchase from them.

If you are going to do any volume of work you need to find the nearest "steel service center" or wharehouse and setup an accout with them. Most will not sell to you without an account OR they charge high cash minimums. Then you also need to find and do business with a good welding supplier.

For non-ferrous metals you might find them locally but most folks end up purchasing them on-line. There is a variety of places including our on-line store.

Start with our getting started article and the books.
   - guru - Monday, 03/22/04 15:04:34 EST

Bluing: Chris, There are many methods. All require mixtures of very nasty chemicals (usualy nitric and hydrochloric acid). The best way is to go to a gun supply like Birchwood Casey. They have a variety of "quick blues". There are books on coloring metals including those especialy for gunsmiths. General purpose books like MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK also include a variety of formulae.
   - guru - Monday, 03/22/04 15:08:40 EST

Corkscrew: This is a relatively easy shape to make IF you have some forging experiance. IF you do not then it is a juggling act. Coiling around a mandrel is the easiest way but you need to be READY to do the job. The mandrel needs to be clamped down or in a vise.

If you are not using a mandrel then make a circle, then make it smaller by rotating and tapping on the outside until the ends overlap, and keep going. This will eventualy make a coil without a mandrel. Then stretch it out. . . You will need needle nose pliers or scrolling tongs to adjust the point to the middle and down.
   - guru - Monday, 03/22/04 15:14:53 EST

Guys, here's a novel idea on rust. Never tried it on purpose, but I know from experience that if you get the Calcium that is used to load tractor tires on ANYTHING metal it will rust like crazy overnight. (This is why I am also a strong supporter of Fluid Film). This rust coating sticks hard too.
   Ed Long - Monday, 03/22/04 15:59:30 EST

CORKSCREWS: Ah, yes. One of the early and valuable blacksmithing lessons; i.e., thinking a couple of steps ahead. Just about everybody's first corkscrew comes out backwards. Think about it.
   3dogs - Monday, 03/22/04 16:49:21 EST

Danaan; would a list of suppliers of smithing equipment in South Africa help? This is the *WORLD* Wide Web and as smithing equipment can be expensive to ship it's best to find stuff near yourself. (so Where are you At???)

Do *NOT* buy or build anything until you have figured out what you want to do. A bladesmith's shop looks and is equipped differently than an ornamental iron shop.

If you plan to do this as a business take classes---time is money and good teraching can really speed up your work. Don't forget small businees classes!

If it is a hobby, buying stuff from catalogs is an expensive way to do it. Finding stuff as you learn you need it is slower but can be much cheaper or you can split the difference and show up at Quad-State with $$$ and you can get *everything* to equip a shop from rivets to powerhammers!

As for blueing there are temperature blues---heat polished steel up between 500-650 degF and you get various shades of blue.

There are cold blues as already mentioned and then there are the "hot bluing" done in chemical solutions closer to the boiling point of water.

One book I have is Angier, R. H., "Firearm Blueing and Browning"

To colour metals do a search on "patinas"

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/22/04 16:51:42 EST

Maybe I didn't mean bluing exactly, but I've seen knives with a finish colour that is basically blue and fades through purple and then to almost copper colour. The best picture I can find of it immediately is at:


I had a friend tell me that the best way to do it was in the method of cooling. He may be entirely off base, and we didn't get a chance to go in depth at all.
Thanks again.
   Kris - Monday, 03/22/04 17:11:11 EST

Danaan; With an address like "Ncdiver, I wonder if you're a neighbor of Paw Paw's. (If Nc= Nawth Clinah) BOG
   3dogs - Monday, 03/22/04 17:12:28 EST

KRIS; The colors you're seeing are the colors that appear when tempering the blade. That's a natural occurence, and those colors are "frozen" in place when the blade/tool is quenched. They are merely surface oxides, and would wear away quickly with use or polishing. Just about the only way you could keep them would be to coat the blade with something like a urethane, and then not use the blade for anything.
   3dogs - Monday, 03/22/04 17:23:21 EST

KRIS; Consider the colors on motorcycle exhaust pipes. As intense as those colors are, they can be removed with a very fine cream type metal polish on a soft cloth.
   3dogs - Monday, 03/22/04 17:28:33 EST

Also, the fact that the blue goes all the way down to the cutting edge means it's probably much too soft to hold a good edge. Tempering is used to soften hardened steel so it's not too brittle, but not soften so much that it won't be functional as a tool. Blue is far into the soft range, great for a knife's spine, horrible for it's edge, the edge should be in the yellow-bronze range usually.
   AwP - Monday, 03/22/04 17:36:06 EST

Checking out his site further, it seems that bronksknifeworks does know how to properly heat treat, and his description of that particular blue knife implies it's more of an artistic piece rather then a using tool... "Lyle has put an elegant twist into this traditional style of knife with heat-bluing and mirror polishing. This knife will make a elegant desk accessory for any railroad or knife aficionado."
   AwP - Monday, 03/22/04 17:41:15 EST

No, Nc is for North Carolina which is where I live. I'm not exactly too sure on how to find a blacksmith near me. I could really use a web address where i could find about joining the abana chapter or a site that i could find a smither near me. I plan on staying with this for making tools, and weapons. Such as swords and knives. I've looked up a lot of stuff and am about to run out of things to look at. I have read a lot of the tutorials for making knives and tools (iForge is very interesting). I know of a few shops around my area that sell tools such as Kayne and son. Do you think they would possibly know of a few people that smith and would be willing to take up an apprentice persay?
   Danaan Henry - Monday, 03/22/04 18:26:24 EST

Danaan Henry,

Where in NC are you located. I'm in Winston-Salem. You can contact the secretary of NCABANA at:


Melanie can check the list for members near you.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/22/04 18:52:29 EST

Danaan, SLOW down and READ. We will get VERY short with you if you do not.

The Getting Started article has dozens of links INCLUDING the link to the ABANA-Chapter site which is also on our drop down menu. It lists the various blacksmithing groups all over the world including NC-ABANA. You just missed their big meet at Oak Hill Ironworks.

SEE the article on apprenticships (ALSO linked to the Getting Started article).

We also have a FAQs page with dozens of articles many which have links to other resources. Follow the links!
   - guru - Monday, 03/22/04 19:03:28 EST

frank, thanks for the welding reference....

mr danaan, spend a week at penland, which i think is in NC, or ask mr turley about his school. well worth it, and better yet, you will know all of the smithin' lingo..
   - rugg - Monday, 03/22/04 19:18:59 EST

Paw Paw, Did I pronounce the name of yo' fine state incorrectly ? As usual, I am so ashamed.
   3dogs - Monday, 03/22/04 20:01:29 EST

I'm confused about what im supposed to slow down about. I've read lots of stuff on this site and I've tried finding places to sign up at but i get this stuff about entering a new website. I'm haveing trouble finding the link. Thanks pawpaw i'll be sure to e-mail them asap.
   Danaan Henry - Monday, 03/22/04 20:24:46 EST

Danaan Henry
I am looking for someone who is very knowledgeable with smithing. You found it - http://www.anvilfire.com
How to find a blacksmith near me? http://www.abana-chapter.com/
I am about to run out of things to look at - try http://www.anvilfire.com/links/ -and- http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/archives/ - and- http://www.anvilfire.com/web-ring/
These are not new, all are links found on Anvilfire.

   - Conner - Monday, 03/22/04 20:41:20 EST

Quenchcrack, and Guru,
As Gavainh pointed out, Hydrogen Peroxide, in the industrial strenghts are more dangerous than most acids. In the 60 to 90%+ strenghts, this is a component of hypergolic rocket fuels. 60% will cause many organic materials to spontanously combust or explode. Somewhat weaker solutions will seriously corrode the eyeballs, causing imediate permanent damage.
The only hydrogen peroxide that is safe to handle is the stuff you buy at the drug store, and it causes tissue damage in open wounds and is no longer reccomended for a disinfectant!
Enough rant, get and read a MSDS prior to handling and using any industrial chemical!
Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injuried, or in jail.( a quote that should be in uncle Atli's very thin book of knowledge)
   ptree - Monday, 03/22/04 20:44:02 EST


Close enough for a Yankee. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/22/04 20:50:14 EST

I was 16 years old before I knew Da..yankee was two words!(grin)
   ptree - Monday, 03/22/04 21:32:37 EST

Hi i'm doing a research paper for my seinor year on the changes in blacksmithing. However, i am finding it difficult to find anything on the web about the changes. I found a lot on the history but not much on modern techniques. If you could throw me a bone as to where i could find some information i would be forever thankfull.

Thank you Carrie
   Carrie - Monday, 03/22/04 21:42:44 EST

You may want to check out a local libary or do some looking around in the anvilfire Faqs page. Carrie the changes are simple to see today we use more safety gear etc. I wont say any more, under the guidlines. (leave it to Guru to say more)
   - Billy - Monday, 03/22/04 21:49:03 EST

i never thought about the safty issue that would help a little thanks.
   Carrie - Monday, 03/22/04 22:00:29 EST

Awesome thank you conner that'll be a big help, i have trouble finding websites and where to look on here.
   Danaan Henry - Monday, 03/22/04 22:00:37 EST

Hi all! Been gone for a while, hope ya missed me. :)

Anyway... couple quick questions if I may.

One of the shops that does Sears house brand tools (craftsman? stanley?) dumps at the local scrap yard. I can and usualy do pick up a few chunks from that pile when I treasure hunt. As I'm in the 'makin the tools I need to make stuff' stage of smithin, I figured this may just be a source of decent stuff for my needs. I'm not real sure what to use for a quenching solution tho. Have yet to experiment (which I should) but thought I would ask ye' mature experts for advice if they had any.

I have one of the 3 burner nc tool forges, and have yet to complete a successfull weld. Thats mostly because I've tried all of 3, and well.. I'm disapointed, but not discouraged. In reading some past posts here on the Guru page it occurs to me that I might be getting a bad o2/propane mix for welds. is there an easy adjustment anyone might suggest? nothing on the forge itself realy lets me fiddle much. If I partialy capped the back of the venturi tubes would that help? hinder? or would I put myself messily into orbit?

Thanks in advance. :)
   mattmaus - Monday, 03/22/04 22:56:09 EST

I've been hammering in a friend's back yard (my own isn't zoned even for artists, so I am wracking up favors in a close friend's barn) for several years now, and whenever possible I try to get things for the forge for free. Like any God fearing blacksmith, I refuse to STEAL to get those free things, which is why I've come to a delema. Some time ago, a heavy flood sent several dozen rail road spikes washing up out of the river, and into a friend's back yard. Once they had been sitting there long enough to make it plain the RR company didn't want them back, I gathered them up (to get them out of the way of his lawn mower) and started in to forging on them. Now I am getting toward the end of that bucket, and I am starting to like the gradually improving quality and demand of my rail road spike knives, hammers and axes. So my question is this: Where can I purchase legitimate, preferably unused, rail road spikes when these God-sent freebies run out? It has been suggested that I walk the tracks and pick up the loose ones, but without permission from the company that owns the tracks (which I was denied) that would be a bit too close to theft for my taste (if people walked through my yard gathering up all the bits of metal I'm not PRESENTLY using.. what would I forge with!?). Your help, as always, is appreciated.
   Robert "Asgard" Lee - Monday, 03/22/04 23:03:16 EST

Danaan Henry: John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC offers blacksmithing classes. They also offer classes in a lot of other "folk arts" as well as folk dancing. I can't personally vouch for their smithing classes, but the folk dancing was top notch!
   - Gavainh - Monday, 03/22/04 23:40:34 EST


The reason you're not finding much on the changes in techniques is that the techniques have changed very little. Because most modern blacksmiths no longer have apprentices (handy, cheap labor), the shift has been toward the use of more power equipment (power hammers and such) to compensate. Gas forges are more prevelant now than before, and the modern thrust is more toward the artistic rather than practical applications of smithing. Most of the other tools are the same as they were in the old days. A hammer is still a hammer. An anvil is still an anvil. If the old ways aren't broke, we're too stubborn to fix 'em.

   eander4 - Tuesday, 03/23/04 00:13:32 EST

During coming T/A I have to cut 66 inch dia internal monel clad pipe to carryout modification work. Total pipe thickness is 12mm out of which 3mm is monel & rest is CS.
Please advice best suitable method to cut the pipe in position as well as workshop.
Whether Plasma cutting will do.


   rajesh jaiswal - Tuesday, 03/23/04 02:49:37 EST

During coming T/A I have to cut 66 inch dia internal monel clad pipe to carryout modification work. Total pipe thickness is 12mm out of which 3mm is monel & rest is CS.
Please advice best suitable method to cut the pipe in position as well as workshop.

Whether Plasma cutting will do.


   rajesh jaiswal - Tuesday, 03/23/04 02:50:43 EST

Cool i'll be sure to look into the prices of classes, i've got a budget since my parents have no faith in what im doing.
   Danaan Henry - Tuesday, 03/23/04 07:17:57 EST

Danaan, if you're close enough to Kayne's to visit, you're close enough to go to their monthly smithing meetings. Ask 'em about it.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/23/04 08:36:17 EST

On cork-screws and such...

here's a newbie tip for other newbies.

For learning how to calculate/visualize stock lenth and pre-figure the direction of scrolls, curves, bends and spirals (like cork-screws), I keep a spool of solid lead solder wire (the thick stuff). You can use it to model the whole piece, or just a part of it, and then unfold it to get the total length (don,t forget to allow for gaining length when drawing out). Using the lead wire model takes a lot of guess work out of your early efforts, but the more you use it, the less you need it.

   - Don A - Tuesday, 03/23/04 08:57:59 EST

Robert "Asgard" Lee,

Mcmaster-Carr sells new RR spikes in 2 lengths. I have used many of them.
   Brian C - Tuesday, 03/23/04 09:11:41 EST

I have some experience in metal fabrication but am just getting into blacksmithing. Joinery interests me and I really like the look - about slot punching. The iinstructions I have - from Blacksmith's Journal say to drill two small pilot holes at the end of the slot and punch with a 3/16 file tool from both sides until the billet drops out. To restore original width it is then necessary to upset. I am wondering why it is not possible to punch with a chisel - It seems this would avoid metal removal and eliminate the need to upset. Is this wrong? Is the 3/16 square end slot punch better?
   Jim Rohrbach - Tuesday, 03/23/04 10:52:03 EST

Light Weight Insulation Block or Brick

I am looking for a source of light weight insulation block or bricks (at least 2 inches thick) for a gas forge door. I'm in the SW Florida area and do not have any close industrial supply I am aware of that might carry these supplies. Can you advise who, which company to contact to get "small quantities" of material since my forge is about 12" diameter.
   Jerry - Tuesday, 03/23/04 10:56:38 EST

sloting with a chisel
I have found (and others may find it other ways) that sloting with a chisel can be done but it leaves the inside of the cut very ugly. I have found that it works better in larger stock that needs to be drifted and forged to shape or in parts that don't have a lot of extra materail but will still be drifted and forged.
the inside of the cut tends to be angled neededing to be drifted then forged to shape, if cut from both sides the cuts never line up (at least not for me) so you need to 1 live with it or 2 grind/file the cut before forgeing (or you get a cold shunt)
with a slot punch the edges of the cut are mostly square to the face and with the holes lineing up the punch is a snap, also I find that the punch tends to "ride" in the drilled holes and helps to keep it square, the down side is the loss of materail. punched holes are also easier to locate over sloted chisel cuts you punch it here and it stays there with the chisel cut you get some movement along the bar from forgeing that can be hard to figure out. (an 1/32" mistake on one side can mess you up 4 times that on the other side of the bar being very notcable)
   MP - Tuesday, 03/23/04 11:57:09 EST

I have a client that wants 60 feet of exterior ornamental balcony railing done with the pewter tone of a forged and wirebrushed natural metal finish, but wants the seal coat to last at least 5 years before having to re-apply. These rails will get hit with San Antonio rain and sun, and I need something that won't breakdown quickly under the UV. Does such a product exist? What I have suggested is a primed and painted finish with a patina and clear coat to give the look of the natural finish. Their willing to do it, but their heart is still set on the clear coat over the forged work. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

   Geoffrey Isbell - Tuesday, 03/23/04 12:15:11 EST

Geo Is: have you though about doing a stainless steel railing? Having it electropolished or passivated and forgetting about the finish? The price will be greater in the short run but the lower maintenance will even it out over time.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/23/04 12:29:30 EST

Long Lasting Finishes: Geoffrey, Most automobile finishes hold up for 20 years unless scratched. The old solvent based lacquers and acrylics held up better than the new modern water based factory finishes. Some colors such a maroon are problematic (fading) as is the water based clear coat (pealing). But in general they last MANY years under extrordinarily harsh conditions.

You start with a sand blasted finish. There can be NO scale, dirt or welding flux. Then the surface can be hot or cold galvanized. Cold galvanizing is a pure zinc powder paint (with minimal binder). This is the stuff they us inside water tanks. Over the hot dip galvanizing you will need an etching primer made for zinc. Over the cold galvanizing you will need a neutral primer such as Dupont Red-Oxide lacquer.

Over the primer you apply your top coat. For a pewter tone I would use automotive gloss silver lacquer followed by a slightly tinted clear coat (just a tad of carbon black). The clear coat would be applied artisticaly to create shadows and to tone down the silver.

Total cost of the paint-job. . about $1,500 to $2,500 depending on the cost of sand blasting and who applies the finish.

When this finish is scratched the zinc should help self heal the bare steel. Hot did galvanizing is better than cold in this respect but cold DOES work. In finishing cleanliness is the rule. The cleaner the metal and the surface between coats the longer the finish will last. Every oil spot or fingerprint is a possible failure point.

This finish SHOULD last longer than 5 years. But to guarantee a finish is difficult. Scratches from use, children climbing the rail, lawn care (weed eaters) and such are unpredictable. Corosives such as exhust fumes, animal urine and pool chemicals are worse than anything nature can do (except perhaps volcanic fumes).

In Germany galvanizing is required on all new architectural work and the US Government requires it on most public works.

Many people will send you to a powder coater. This process produces a wonderful hard finish BUT it provides no protection if scratched. IF you push and pay the price they CAN apply a multiple coat finish called a "marine" finish. Some will apply it over hot dip galvanizing but this requires special attention to the galvanizing process.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/23/04 12:51:12 EST


To add to the comments above, between the early middle ages and the industrial revolution the main addition to the common blacksmith’s shop was the vise, invented in the renaissance. While forging down at Jamestown’s Military Through the Ages event this weekend I had my eldest son, Michael and our friend, Otarr, running the forge (I was out of action part of the time with a bad cold). When it came time to twist stock one would brace the lower tongs against the small block anvil and bottomed out on the stump while the other would twist the upper part with his tongs. They also came in handy in holding, striking, and other “3-handed” operations as well as pumping the twinned bellows. These early setups are definitely a two or three person operation (if you want ANY degree of efficiency). In a modern shop the “large labor pool” is replaced by vises for holding, electric fans for blowing the fire, power or treadle hammers for striking, small electric motors for cranking the grindstone- all replacing the extra hands that are a luxury in the 21st century.


Despite being laid-low we had a nice weekend at MTA, talking to about 3,000 visitors. We were in the #1 slot, so everybody came by the forge. We knocked off one spearhead using an alternate technique (I’ll write it up for iForge if Jock wants) two pair of hinges for repayment to the carpenter for the woodwork on my daughter’s-in-law medieval ironbound chest, and some trial pieces/samplers. And, when the wooden tripod burned through and dumped part of the luncheon soup in the fire, my “wives” demanded that I crawl out of bed and make the iron cooking tripod that I had promised the Anglo-Saxon camp (a slightly different set-up than the later Viking styles).

Back to bed on the banks of the lower Potomac; still need to unload the truck.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org

Camp Fenby: June 25-27
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 03/23/04 13:05:06 EST

Changes in Blacksmithing: Carrie, We do not do homework but this is a hard subject to nail down. I will be brief and there are no quotes here, however I am providing a crude bibliography to get you started.

As eander4 mentioned there have been few changes over a very long time in the BASICS. The modern smith often heats their metal and shapes it exactly the way the first smith did. However, historicaly blacksmiths were often the developers of new technologies and new machinery so the history of most of the entire industrial revolution is the history of blacksmithing.

From about the beginning in 1500 BC (see our story page under Ray Smiths Notebook) to 1300 AD there were few if any changes in the art. There was iron, charcoal forges, small anvils, chisles and tongs. Tools from 500 BC look almost identical to modern ones1. In the 1300's civilisation created economic pressures that saw that metals were produced in larger quantities. This in turn reduced their cost and items of iron become more plentiful. Large ironworks used water power to operate the bellows for their furnaces and to power trip hammers and rolling mills2.. Blacksmiths anvils grew in size, other tools such a shears became larger and higher capacity.

Sometime around 1300 to 1500 the blacksmith's screw vise was invented (see our FAQ page). This was a major step in the technology of doing hand work and spread to all crafts. During this time the specialty tool makers in Europe became important industries making tools such as saws, files and other edge tools. These tedious tasks no longer fell to the general smith. In the 1600's anvil manufacturing in England stopped being a cottage industry and became a large export business as England supplied her colonies with manufactured goods. By the 1700's there were catalogs of tools for various craftsfolk3. The growth of industry was also such in the 1700's that a French enclopedist Denis Diterot made hundreds of drawings of scenes of manufacturing facilities4.

The next major changes in blacksmithing was the development of steam powered machines, power hammers, shapers and milling machines. In his autobiography, James Nasmyth, the inventor of the shaper and the steam power hammer describes the industry of England and many of the changes of the industrial revolution5.

Nasmyth's invention of the steam hammer changed the world of the blacksmith forever. It gave smiths the capacity to make forgings larger than ever before and for indivdual smiths to produce tools in quantities in the same time that would have taken dozens of smiths by hand.

Modern inventions that changed blacksmithing the most were oxy-acetylene welding and arc welding which though invented earlier became popular between WWI and WWII (see History of Welding at weldinghistory.org). Gas and oil forges started replacing coal and charcoal about this time. This continues today where the solid fuels are becoming difficult or expensive to obtain

Today the changes in welding and cutting technology are still changing blacksmithing. High tech plasma torches that cut ferrous and non-ferrous sheet metal and plate almost burr free are common in blacksmith shops. Smiths also take advantage of computerized robotic plasma and laser torches for fine blanking of repetitive pieces. Many smiths create their own CAD templates for these machines, thus bringing the blacksmith fully into the computer era.

In North America and Europe there is currently a boom in blacksmithing both professionaly and as a hobby. This has created a situation where there are now many tools and machines being specialy produced for this market. They are not yet at the level they were at the end of the 19th century but the availability is greater every day and new designs are being developed. New small power hammers such as the BigBLU, Striker and KA-75 are being made specificaly for this market. Anvils are again being made in large quantities in both the US and Europe. Small tools and forges are again being made by dozens of manufacturers such as NC-Tool, Peddinghaus and Off Center Tools.

1. Greek vase paintings by the "Foundry Painter".
See also The Mästermyer Find. A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland Greta Arwidsson and Gosta Berg, 1983 available from Norm Larson or by ILL. See our NEWs vol 26 also The Mästermyer Project

2. De Re Metalica (1556) by Georgious Agricola translated by Herbert Hoover (the President) and his wife. Methods used to process ores and metals in the 1400 and 1500's.

3. A Catalog of Tools for Watch And Clock Makers, By John Wyke of Liverpool (~1770), Published by The Henry Francis duPont Winterthur Museum, EAIA, The University Press of Virginia, 1978.

4. L'Encyclopedie' of Denis Diderot also known as Diderot's Pictorial Enclclopedia of Trades and Industries. Reprint by Dover books. (methods of manufacturing in the 1700's)

5. James Nasmyth: Autobiography, ENGINEER and INVENTOR, Edited by SAMUEL SMILES, LL.D. 1885 (see link to our on-line version).
Some of these books are available new from specialty shops such as Norm Larson Books (see getting started), Centaur Forge and Pieh Tool, others by ILL (Inter Library Loan). Ocassionaly a few are available through the on-line used book sellers but you have to check constantly.

Most good libraries have De Re Metalica and Diderot's. Try your local public library. However, your best bet will be the nearest college or University library. Most allow public access but not loaning of books.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/23/04 13:17:40 EST

Alright so Kayne & Son will be my first stop and I'll check out those conventions. I plan to take metal classes in school next year, so that should be another good start. I've been talking with the shop teacher and we made an anvil just out of some railroad track.
   Danaan Henry - Tuesday, 03/23/04 13:34:53 EST

Slitting and Punching: Jim, There have been many crutch methods developed in recent years but the best way is the traditional methods and PRACTICE. See our iForge demos on punching.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/23/04 13:44:08 EST

Lightweight Insulation: Jerry, We currently have kaowool board in stock in two types. Low density and high density. The low density is about like a ceiling insulation tile and the high like the formed lining of an NC-TOOL forge.

The cost per 1" x 24" x 36" board is $60 for the low density and $120 for the high density board. Single and double boards require a special packaging fee of $15 (for the plywood to prevent breakage). We also sell cut pieces (halves quarters) for a small fee that is less than the cost of the added board and paying freight on it.

These are not yet on our shopping cart as we are not sure we are going to keep them in stock.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/23/04 13:51:56 EST

Natural Finish: Geoffrey, As Thomas pointed out you can use 304 SS. The cost will just about offeset the cost of galvinizing and paint. When forged it turns black just like steel. When finished to remove some of the scale it is a LITTLE brighter than steel. As forged SS will ocassionaly show minor rust spotting (usualy from contamination) but in most environments it is not a serious problem. A clear coat or wax will prevent most rust on SS.

See the photo of my SS front door latch on our 21st Century Page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/23/04 13:58:13 EST

Carrie, In addition to the Guru's references another good one is "The Making,Shaping and Treating of Steel" originally published by the Carnegie Steel Co. I suspect in the 191X time frame. The earliest one I've seen is a 2nd edition from the 1920's. It has been continuously updated and is still in print. The more recent versions were published by US Steel, though I think ASM might have done the current one. Various autors over the years. They include history and information on steel making and using methods.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 03/23/04 14:01:36 EST


You can get lightweight insulating firebrick at Miami Clay Supply, or a couple of other potter's supply houses in the Metro Dade area. Probably a potters supply in Tampa, too.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/23/04 14:23:14 EST

thank you all for your input

Now i just need to know how to give credit for the information oh well i'll figure it out.

Again thanks Carrie
   Carrie - Tuesday, 03/23/04 14:30:36 EST


I would add to the slitting vs punching discussion that drilling and punching will be much less likely to have splitting or cold-shutting at the ends of the slot than slitting and drifting will. The clean drilled start and stop of the punched slot will resist problems, while a slit will encourage them. If the loss of stock is a concern, just upset the area a bit first to gather more material in that area.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/23/04 14:36:07 EST


Reference the history response.

That's another FAQ!
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/23/04 15:36:52 EST

Refractory supplies:

You could also look for refractory contractors in your area. I've gone to three different ones around me and all will sell individual bricks, if that's what I wanted. The only gotcha is they have to have them on hand. I have never found a problem buying bricks, but Kaowool wasn't always available, and insulating castable was only at one of the places.


   - MarcG - Tuesday, 03/23/04 16:42:15 EST

KNow any of the tool suppliers that carry butchers? Can't seem to locate one.
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/23/04 20:04:08 EST


Did you check Kayne and Son?
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/23/04 20:18:06 EST

Hydrogen Peroxide: I had the drug store variety in mind when I suggested that. I once made 3 large nails from mild steel and wanted a good coat of rust on them. I left them in a glass of water for a week. Zip, nada, no rust. As Guru mentioned, it is the Oxygen that must combine with the iron to form rust. When the water loses all its dissolved oxygen, very little rust happens. I eventually left them on a wet rag, open to the atmosphere, and got a nice rich brown-orange color.
Hydrochoric acid is even faster but it is very difficult to get it to understand exactly where you want rust and where you don't!
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 03/23/04 20:48:06 EST

Looks like you are well on your way to becoming the new FAQ queen....(grin) I dub thee master of all FAQ's subject to Guru's approval......... (VBG)
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/23/04 20:49:07 EST

Geoffrey- I have a sculpture in San Antonio that is made of electropolished stainless steel- So you could go see it and see what electropolishing looks like. That particular sculpture (actually 3) is behind the convention center up towards the football stadium- a wing, a chimney, and a round bench. It does not have any forging on it, but I often forge stainless steel, then have it electropolished. The forging will become quite shiny, and will stay shiny for years and years with no wax or other finish applied.
Another possibility that exists is clear powdercoating- I have used it extensively in the past, but being a pants and suspenders kind of guy, I have only used it on indoor projects. I would not recommend it for an outdoor project, as it cannot be reapplied without taking the entire piece apart, and taking it back to the powdercoaters shop. This is a problem with powdercoating in general- it cannot be touched up on site, unless you use a different finish for touchup.
   ries - Tuesday, 03/23/04 21:13:29 EST

Paw Paw, I checked Kayne, Pieh and Centaur. Couldn't seem to locate one.
   Ed Long - Wednesday, 03/24/04 11:13:38 EST


I thought that Kayne carried them, but I'm not sure.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/24/04 11:19:38 EST

Howdy, I was wondering about a good source for treadle hammer plans? or someone who sells them already built.I am located in the Pacific Northwest.
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks, Noisey
   noiseyforge - Wednesday, 03/24/04 11:26:26 EST


Jere Kirkpatrick sells build treadle hammers, kits, and plans all three. http://www.saber.net/~jere/
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/24/04 12:00:05 EST

While exploring options for a blower for my charcoal forge, the idea occurred to me to use my compressor as an air source. Run pressure through a regulator to a nipple mounted in a cap on the inlet side of my tuyere, which is built of 2 inch pipe per the diagram of the brake drum forge plans on this site. The main benefit I see is it's cheap - I have a spare regulator and a compresor (25 gal tank, 2hp single-stage I think), a pipe cap and air nipple are less than $3.00. Any opinions on how well this would work?
   Frank Kloiber - Wednesday, 03/24/04 12:34:38 EST

Frank; I think you're gonna run that little compressor to death. You could get more air VOLUME as opposed to pressure out of a cheap blow drier or using the exhaust of a Shop-Vac. If you're determined to use your compressor, there are in-line venturi air amplifiers available, but they are kind of pricy.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/24/04 12:57:41 EST

Air Compressor to Forge: This was common on large industrial installations where huge amounts of air was available. Gas, oil and coal forges were run on air. To run a coal forge there must be an expansion chamber to reduce the velocity of the air.

As 3dogs pointed out it will run a small air compressor to death. Air compresssors are very inefficent at producing the air you need for a forge. It will take a several HP compressor to replace a fractional HP blower.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/24/04 13:52:53 EST

Paw Paw, Ed, Theres a butcher under anvil tools and misc.items at Kayne and Son
   - Robert-ironworker - Wednesday, 03/24/04 15:27:17 EST

Paw, Paw, Robert, thanks , located it this time. Not sure how I overlooked it before. Guess age is creeping up on me. :-)
   Ed Long - Wednesday, 03/24/04 16:24:33 EST

Thanks. I forgot about the volume vs pressure consideration.
   Frank Kloiber - Wednesday, 03/24/04 17:35:20 EST

Guru, Does my outdoor forge have to follow all the building codes and keep up with them and be up to standards? Are there any specific ones for us Blacksmiths to follow?
   - Andrew - Wednesday, 03/24/04 17:55:02 EST

Codes: Andrew, This is strictly up to your locality (county, city, town). In many places no, in some yes. It often depends on if this is a hobby or a profession. In practice this is one of those don't don't ask don't tell situations.

If you have a local open fires regulation then you had better pay attention to it. Fines are high and you can be found lible for damages.

Some places allow attended open cooking fires. Keep a pot of hot water on the forge and offer anyone that asks a cup of tea.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/24/04 19:25:07 EST

mr. rohrbach, the upset is to restore the thickness around the drifted hole. the sides of the hole thin out by driving the drift through. i think the BSJ described slotting first, then closing the slot, upset the closed slot section, then proceding with opening and drifting. i think there is much less thinning when punching round or rectangular holes. these are two different operations: punching ( loss of material, the slug) and slitting/opening/drifting to size/shape (no loss of material)...
   - rugg - Wednesday, 03/24/04 20:11:08 EST

What I'm wondering is how they made molds out of metal (I thing they are lead) like the ones they make toy soldiers, etc. I'm talking about the ones made before all the computerized equipment, etc. I want to produce some molds and have checked into latex, rubber, etc. molds, but I will be pouring medium to high-temp metals and don't think they will stand up. I'm a novice, as you can tell but am interested in many things and not afraid to try anything. I got the idea after purchasing a bullet mold (it looks like it's an aluminum type mold). I can't imagine that it can be that hard to make a toy soldier, etc. mold that I can pour in lead, pewter, silver, platinum, etc. Can you help or steer me in the right direction? I live in Wenatchee Washington. Thank you!
   Shawn Osborn - Wednesday, 03/24/04 21:24:47 EST


Take a look at:

   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/24/04 21:29:29 EST

NATURAL FINISH: Guru, Thomas & Ries - Thanks for the feedback. I've already purchased and forged most of the steel for the railing, so I'm a day late and a dollar short on the great SS idea...but it may solve some problems with another client in Arlington. However, the forge work was planned and is being constructed as 3'to 7' removable panels for maintenance issues due to the awkward location, so clear powdercoating may be a viable solution if that is the only main concern with exterior use.

P.S. Guru-your latch looks great and I'll be going by the CC to look at Ries sculptures with my client on Saturday.
   Geoffrey Isbell - Wednesday, 03/24/04 22:08:11 EST


To make a mold for repetitive use with low temperature alloys ( less than 600F) you can make the mold from aluminum, but cast iron is a better choice. The process is the same for higher temperature metals, but the mold must be made from a material that will not be degraded by the molten metal. Usually this means steel or stainless steel.

The process starts with a model of the final piece. Then a mold, usually wax, is made of the model. This wax mold becomes the model for the metal mold. The wax mold-model is carefully fitted so that all the details will be captured but have no undercuts that prevent release of the casting. Once this is done, the pieces of the mold-model are then sprued and gated and invested in refractory plaster.

The plaster mold is burned out in a kiln to remove the wax, which is replaced with molten steel, cast iron, aluminum or whatever material is appropriate for the metal you will be casting. Once the casting is cooled, the plaster is removed and the new metal mold is cleaned and detailed for final fit. After that, it can have molten metal poured into it numerous times to produce as many items as desired.

The foregoing was a gross oversimplification of the process of casting multiples. To fully understand all the factors involved, you need to go to your library and read books on casting, metallurgy, foundry work, model making and jewelry casting. Once you have studied all those sources, you will begin to have a good grasp of the process.

One thing that needs to be noted is that METAL CASTING IS DANGEROUS. Molten metal, even low temperature alloys like pewter, will remove flesh faster than a sharp knife. Permanently. There is the possibility of steam explosions, flask ruptures, crucible breaks and accidents. All of which are potentially lethal if they happen to untrained, unprepared amateurs. I strenuously recommend taking a couple of courses in either jewelry making or sculpture and foundry work from your local university or community college, before attempting this on your own.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/24/04 22:13:35 EST

I have just one thing to add to Vicopper's post (which was amazingly comprehensive... way to go!)... PREHEAT, PREHEAT, PREHEAT! If you are using any type of non-sand mold, investment, steel, cast iron, aluminum, whatever! PREHEAT it! Make the whole thing at least 300 degrees. Don't be like me; a torching will not do the job. A few weeks ago, I was doing casting some copper ingots and did not adequately preheat the ingot mold. I could have taken some SEVERE burns from the copper frags, but fortunately I was wearing a lot of protective gear. As it was, I just about ruined one of my favorite pairs of jeans, and learned just how far those little copper balls could leap. If you think welding sputterballs are bad, these are way worse. They leapt at ten feet easily, and that's at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Preheat! It's easy!

Rainy and overcast in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Thursday, 03/25/04 00:18:03 EST

One other thing about casting: Look up the melting temperature of platinum, it's not a medium-to-low temperature metal! If I remember correctly it's something like 3400 degrees F?

I still have a few pits on the back of my hand from hot pewter I thought had solidified...
   Alan-L - Thursday, 03/25/04 08:01:20 EST

Yesterday I purchased in Montréal Cda, a "Murco" 1-100# power hammer (195?).
Now I would like to rebuilt it and maintenance it.Also I would like to know how to work properly with a power hammer.Is there any part and/or maintenance manuel for a Murco power hammer. Help me on this.
   André - Thursday, 03/25/04 10:48:18 EST

T. Gold and Alan,

You're both quite right. Preheating of the mold is necessary both from the standpoint of safety and from the standpoint of avoiding cold shutting in the mold. The pre-heat temperature should be about a hundred degrees below the melting point of low-melting alloys like lead, pewter and tin. For high melting point metals like copper, silver, gold, brass, or platinum, the preheat should be to around 900ºF or a bit higher, depending on the specific metal and the mold material. Casting is both an art and a science. You must know the science first, then learn the art. Any other course is folly and will likely result in scars or worse.

Yes, the melting point of platinum is higher than gold or silver, which melt at around 1975ºF and up. I think your figure of 3400º is about right, but I'm at work right now and don't have my references to check it. It's certainly close, though. Definitely NOT low-melting.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/25/04 11:58:51 EST

Murco Power Hammer: André, I have never heard of this make of hammer. The odds are that it is one of many orphan machines since all the old mechanical and air hammer manufacturers went out of business in the middle of the twentieth century. All you can do with these old machines is reverse engineer them.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/25/04 12:13:29 EST

Melting Point: 1768.4 ºC
Boiling Point: 3825 ºC
   Ralph - Thursday, 03/25/04 13:16:47 EST


Murco Hammers

According to Pounding Out the Profits, Murco was a later name for the Moloch. The story goes like this: Moloch was originally designed by the Mayer brothers (designers of the Little Giant hammers as well). Moloch was sold to the Murray Co. and was remamed the Murray Hammer. In the 1940s the name was changed to Murco. Eventually this line of hammers was purchased by the LG company, likely as a way to reduced competition.

The was a seperate company in Canada that made a Canadian Little Giant. In general, all of these machines (LG, Moloch, Murry, Murco, Mayer) are pretty similar. You will want to get a book by R. Kern. I don't remember the title but someone else will. You will also want a copy of "The Bang Tap Miss Blues" which is a video on using and tuning LG type hammers. For a good all around reference on using power hammers get a hold of the vidoe series by Clifton Ralph.

   Patrick Nowak - Thursday, 03/25/04 13:51:31 EST

If I ever am going to have a hossfeld #2 metal bender it look like I am going to have to build it myself and that realy is not aa problem, what is a problem is trying to find out what type or kind of metal the main frame of the bender is made out of. A friend let me use his for a pattern and I took a piece of the main frame to a lab and had it tested for hardness and it came out in the low 90,000 lbs. per. sq. in. range but didnt tell me much about what kind or type of metal use for this part of the bender. I am guessing what ever it was it was drilled and bent and then hardned. It also should have a good stress factor added in this. If you could help it would realy make my day. Sincerely A.J. Radke
   Albert J. Radke - Thursday, 03/25/04 18:12:33 EST

Shawn Osborn,
On molding of medium to high temp alloys. Another method to achieve fine detail in small lots of figures is lost wax casting. First a model is made. This can be carved in wax, or from an original, a rubber mold is made that wax is injected into. Either way a wax positive is achieved. From this a lost wax casting is achieved, much as Vicopper noted. Then once a finished, perfect positive model is achieved, a rubber mold is made, if not already available from step one. Then as many wax models as are required are made and shot in the lost wax process. This is how most fine jewerly is produced. You can shoot most any available metal in this method. The detail available is amazing. When making wax originals, I have left my fingerprint is the soft wax used to sprue, and had the fingerprint cast and looked perfect!
More info can be had, as well as materials and tools for this ancient art(the Inca's used this process) at RIO GRANDE on the web. They also sell precious alloys as well as look a-like alloys.
As noted, this is a dangerous process as the temp's are high. Be carefull, and seek a class. This process is easy enough that an 18 year old Army private 4000 miles from home learned it to occupy his spare time. Still have much of the jewels, although my wife claims them.
   ptree - Thursday, 03/25/04 18:57:04 EST

Albert Radke- I have actually toured the hossfeld factory in Winona Minnesota- they looked at me like I was a fruitcake when I asked to tour it- evidently no one ever does. But I can assure you that hossfeld does indeed heat treat their frames, as well as their pins. Most of the dies are cast, and not heat treated.
My guess is some medium carbon steel- maybe not as good as 4140, but that would certainly work. They also bore the holes after assembly with a pretty precise machine tool, to ensure lineup between the upper and lower frames. So what looks like something you could just bang out with a drill press is actually a pretty sophisticated tool. Not to say you couldnt make one yourself, but it would take a good shop, and good metallurgy and heat treating skills. Just making it out of mild steel, the holes will ovalize in just a little while. I know- I have worn out a factory hossfeld. Grant bored his holes oversize and pressed in hardened bushings- this would work with a softer steel frame. But really, now that the hossfeld patents have expired, there are 2 other companies making the benders and tooling. None of them make as wide a range of tooling as hossfeld, but the bender from American Bender is actually pretty reasonably priced for what it is- a cnc machined, heat treated, durable too.
The two other companies are jdsquared and american bender. both have websites.- american bender dot com, and jd2 dot com.
The basic bender with some tooling from american is 548$- not too bad for what you get, in my opinion. I have replacement frames from american, and they are very well made, and 100% interchangeable with real hossfeld.
   ries - Thursday, 03/25/04 21:05:48 EST

Andre, at what type of store did you buy your mucro power hammer in Montreal?
   - Billy - Thursday, 03/25/04 21:25:21 EST

Hi Guys!
I just bought a 175lbs Peter Wright Anvil today from a fellow and judging from his story, it apparently originated from the Fort Macleod North West Mounted Police in Alberta Canada over one hundred years ago. I've been searching for information on Peter Wright Anvils and I believe they were originally manufactured as early as the mid 1800's. It is marked in hundredweight and reads "Peter Wright" then somethings that appear to be "rated England". Does anyone have any further details on the history of such an anvil?
   - Louis - Thursday, 03/25/04 22:42:16 EST

Louis, Peter Wright history is to be found in "Anvils in America" by Richard Postman. The anvils can date to the mid-1800's, but they were a large export item into the 20th century. They were forged in Dudley, England. They are often stamped, "Peter Wright Patent" and "Solid Wrought" in a small circle below. "England" was sometimes stamped below the Peter Wright stamp.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/26/04 00:00:46 EST

Louis, that "rated" is probably "Patent".
   - bgott - Friday, 03/26/04 00:26:54 EST

If you can help im looking for a magnetic switch throu a relay to turn of generator atomaticly wen water pump (belt breaks) i have an alarm on it now but its only sound .the valve will pull the gas trotle & save me the runing to turn it off.i have the drawing made up now.
   Andreas - Friday, 03/26/04 03:46:22 EST

Well, I,ve managed to build a small gas forge using the Reil burner. Without launching myself into orbit! I really wasn't sure, at first. I'm using fire bricks for the forge, in a temporary stack, at the moment. When I settle on a final forge configuration, I will coat with ITC 100. However, per Jocks recomendation, I have the bottom of the forge made with the bricks on end, giving me 4 1/2 inches thick. Now, I've got small spaces between the bricks. Should I eventually mortar those bricks, then coat with the ITC 100? Or would putting a kiln shelf down for the floor be better, along with coating the sides and top with ITC? I now return you to your regularly scheduled blacksmith channel. :]
   Bob H - Friday, 03/26/04 08:26:17 EST

Bob H.

Fear not, that is certainly a blacksmithing question.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/26/04 09:25:09 EST

My power hammer was purchased from a blacksmith shop on Peel street in down town Montréal.They want a more recent one. One hour after I was advised by a friend that there will be an auction also in Mtl, saturday march 27, where one, exactly the same model, will be auctionned....
Therefore I probably would have had a lot better deal at this auction...but it is too late for me...that's life!!!
   André - Friday, 03/26/04 09:30:40 EST


Check with either McMaster-Carr or W.W. Grainger, (both have websites) for the relays and contactors.

Bob H.

If you plan to do much forge welding, I would use a kiln shelf for the forge bottom. Kiln shelf is far more resistant to flux than soft firebrick or hard firebrick. I like to use soft firebrick or Kaowool for the base, with kiln shelf over it for the floor. I also use sawed strips of kiln shelf to line the walls up about two inches or so to prevent any flux spills from degrading the wall insulation. I coat everything with ITC-100.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/26/04 09:33:24 EST

Relay: Andres, This is a job for what is known as a "motor contactor". Almost all makes can use different coils powered by everything from 440 VAC to 12VDC. Just be sure the coil is rated for the coil switching voltage. The coil voltage does NOT have to be the same as that switched. You could use 12 VDC to control 220 VAC.

Most motor contactors have terminals for a variety of lockouts and stop/start buttons. It takes a while to understand the wiring but once you do they all work alike.

The American NEMA contactors are the best heavy duty units but they are expensive. The European DIN units are much smaller, less expensive and have the same ratings.

Both motor contactors and the little ice-cube relays are available at most electrical suppliers. "Ice-cube" relays are about the size of an ice cube and are made in 3 PDT and 4PDT (3 and 4 pole double throw). That means they can switch 3 or 4 circuits (usualy at 10Amps max). They too come in various coil voltage ratings. Normally they are used with a plug in base so they look like an old radio tube. I would commonly use one pole as a "latch" circuit to keep the relay activated until something interupted the control circuit.
   - guru - Friday, 03/26/04 10:18:01 EST

What material is kiln shelf? Is it a ceramic tile, or ITC-coated metal, or...?

   Steve A - Friday, 03/26/04 13:27:49 EST

Help! I have broken a 3/8-16NC tap in a 1" deep blind hole and am trying to determine the best/simplest way of removing it. The hole is in a peice of sucker rod frogerd to a taper and bent for specific project. So I would like to retain it without to much damage/rework.
Here is what I am contemplating:
Reheat the forged piece this should expand the materail around the tap, and then try to turn it out with some needle nose pliers.
I also though that heating and then annealing would remove the temper form the tap in the event that it must be drilled out and the hole retapped to a larger size.
Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
   Andy - Friday, 03/26/04 14:15:22 EST

Kiln Shelf:

There are kiln shelves made of high-alumina refractory called mullite, and you can also get kiln shelves made of silicon carbide. The silicon carbide are tougher and more expensive. I have been using the mullite-type in my forges and have pretty good luck with them.

A key point to remember when building a forge is to support the floor adequately. I use kiln posts, hollow square columns made form refractory, to support the forge bottom every six inches or so. Pieces of hard firebrick will also work. The intervening space is filled with scraps of Kaowool. This has worked well with no sagging or breakage.

Flux, especially flux with fluorite in it, will eat any forge floor, given enough time and temperature. A piece of stainless steel on the floor will catch most drools before they get a chance to start eroding your forge floor. Ceramic tiles, the unglazed kind, can also be used, but I find they fracture quickly, leaving cracks for the flux to drool through.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/26/04 15:07:44 EST

How do you forge a candle cup from 3/4" black iron and attach it to a square of smaller size? I am tring to construct a Spanish style 4 post candelabra..Mucho thanks..
   Hornedtoad Jon - Friday, 03/26/04 15:37:46 EST

Where can I find some detailed plans for coal forges?
Thank You!!!...
   Sharon - Friday, 03/26/04 16:15:37 EST

Hornedtoad Joh,

Heat the end to a good red. (don't forget to plug the other end with a rag! If you do, the pipe will act like a chimney and send all the heat right up to your hand!) Forge the cup over the horn of the anvil. Cool it and cut it to the correct length. Braze it to the square of stock.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/26/04 16:33:22 EST


Check the brake drum forge on the plans page.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/26/04 16:33:51 EST

Tap removal:

Try thermal shocking the tap, you might get it to shatter in the hole (proper safety protection required)

If you try to drill out a softened tap, try to find a lefthand drill, some times you can get the drill to dig in and spin the tap out.

   - Hudson - Friday, 03/26/04 18:15:59 EST


The last time I broke a tap in the hole; I used my mig welder to stack spot welds high enough to grab with a pair of vicegrips and turn it out.
   Myke - Friday, 03/26/04 18:40:01 EST


Both approaches that Hudson and Myke posted will work well. I've also had some success with drilling an anealed Tap and using an Easy Out to remove it.

But any way you go, it's not fun. I'd try Myke's method first, I think.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/26/04 18:48:30 EST

Flux, refractory and eating of same....
A friend of mine has had great luck with a high phoshpate reftacotory ( Pyramid Super Air Set by Bartells) that has not shown any appreciable degredation of refractory in 4 plus years ( yes he does forge weld) Just yet another bit of info to swamp those who are looking for more info...(smile)
   Ralph - Friday, 03/26/04 19:07:57 EST

Forgeing pipe into candle cups..... PPW I think a nice bright red to a low yellow will work better. Leastwise that is how Lorelie Sims did it in Flagstaff and eversince then so have I and it does work much better in my opinion.
   Ralph - Friday, 03/26/04 19:09:31 EST

Broken Tap: You might try a Walton Tap Extractor. These are available from MSC and McMaster or a good toooling supplier. I just unwrapped one for 3/8" four flute taps. Its basicly a steeel rod with grooves for four pins which will slide down into the relief spaces of your tap. There is a collar which is slid down to the top of the work or the broken tap and holds the pins in place. The other end is a square for the tap wrench. They don't always work but they are worth a try before you toss the work. You may have to rotate forward and back in very small arcs before the tap comes free.

Of course an EDM works great too!
   SGensh - Friday, 03/26/04 19:31:14 EST

I just finished a JYH made with a leaf spring from an old pickup truck, which I pivoted in the middle. one end of the spring is attached to the hammer the other to a motor driven eccentric. My problem is whenever I run it faster than about 80 hits per min.it just goes into a useless slapping motion. I think the spring is rebounding a few times in between each time it sould hit. Any suggestions for a method to dampen this motion, or sould I scrap the whole thing. Thanks for any help. Keith
   Keith - Friday, 03/26/04 21:08:12 EST

Hi, my name is Matt Hunter, I'm 22 years old and I have a fascination about blacksmithing and everything you need to know about blacksmithing and it's techniques! I currently live in Bakersfield California and I would like to know if you could tell me where I could find the nearest blacksmithing school. Where I first began my love for blacksmithing was back when I was 8 years old or so. I've always loved History...especially the Medieval periods, and any other time period before that.....the bronze age...and so on. I am a huge fan of LOTR and all of the weapons and armor they produced through out the movie. I love the Museum Replicas Limited magazine where they make arms and armor. My question is this. Where can I find a blacksmith to teach me the ways of blacksmithing? I would love to make my own armor, and my own accurate dating sword. I love metal, I love heat, hence why I live in southern California. My email is HarlemSuperfly@hotmail.com if anybody has any questions, thank you.
   Matt Hunter - Friday, 03/26/04 21:15:06 EST

The nearest school I cna think of is the Turley school in Santa Fe.
But if you contact the CBA they offer many many smithing classes and hammer-ins through out the year. If memory serves correctly there should be a fairly large and active group near you.
Also take some welding classes in your local vo-tech or community college.
Also stay away form armour and weapons...... both are somewhat advanced in techniques. Start with basic smithing, learn this first get decent at it and then move into other areas as you find your interest peaked.
   Ralph - Friday, 03/26/04 21:50:13 EST

I have a crank actuated spring hammer. Couple of things come to mind.
How much clearence do you have with the ram all the way down, and the machine off. with my 32# hammer, I need about 1.5 to 2". more and no force.
I also had a too light spring at first. I then added a couple of short leafs. one on top and one on the bottom.
This helped alot. Be sure to radius the short spring ends in boths axis, as I broke a spring from a stress riser at the short leaf end.
Next, do you have a safety hood to contain the flying spring parts that may take your head off? My ram will also come out the top if the spring breaks on the up stroke. I used 10 gage. And when the second spring broke, while the sound was awesome, the damage to my admitted hard head was prevented.
These homebuilt hammers will work, but you are the designer, builder, and tester. You will have to experiment some to get the system that is your hammer balenced and tuned. Very doable, but add the hood.
Life is too short to spend any of it DEAD,INJURIED,or in JAIL. A quote that should be in uncle Atlie's very thin book of wisdom.
   ptree - Friday, 03/26/04 22:04:40 EST

Matt, Come to Vista, CA, The CBA is having its Spring Confrence at the Vista Steam Tractor Museum April 2,3&4. There'll be lots of smithing and workshops at beginning and intermediate levels, as well as living treasure, Freddy Habbermann. And living ledgend Rob Gunter amoung many others. Ya'll come
   Toby Hickman - Friday, 03/26/04 22:11:23 EST

Matt, check with Piehl Tool Co, they are an advertiser here, accessible with the pull down menu top right of your screen, under the section of advertisers....they are located in Camp Verde, AZ, and offer a 3 day blacksmithing class. I took it last December and can recommend it. Cost is $350 plus whatever you spend on lodging, travel and meals. I've not been to Frank's school....yet....but folks speak very highly of it.
   Ellen - Friday, 03/26/04 23:02:13 EST


Ptree: When I get back to my master copy at work, I'll add your quote (with attribution, of course) to the "Things I Wish I'd Said But My Friends Say It Better" section. ;-) UAVTBoW is, like many other things in my life, a work in progress.


There's some good information at the Armour Archive ( http://forums.armourarchive.org/ ). On the other claw, we would certainly encourage you to learn blacksmithing fundamental first, if just for the versitility and overall usefulness. Check out some of our beginners articles in the Anvilfire Armoury (see pulldown memo) and Jock's FAQ on Swords for beginners.

"We are the infrastructure; all that other stuff is just entropy in action." (Uncle Atli's Very Thin Book of Wisdom)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone - Saturday, 03/27/04 00:15:24 EST

I've never been to Frank's school either. But I have had the privilege of watching Frank at a class for intermediate smiths at Penland School of Crafts, and judging by the work his students were doing, there is a good reason why his school is so well known and is one of the longest running schools of blacksmithing in the US.

The reason? He's good. Darn good, and I'd have used a stronger explitive if this wasn't a family board.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/27/04 00:20:15 EST

Matt- go to www.calsmith.org that's the california blacksmith assoc. web site. E-mail anyone on the site for Mark Asperys phone or e-mail. I've taken several classes and seminars from Mark, he's a transplanted welsh journeyman blacksmith of the U.K worshipful fellowship brotherhood etc. he hates websites and computers, but has a brilliant demeanor, can work within anyones level, likes monty python movies, and has a school within an hours drive of bakersfield.He gives four day intense classes, bring a clipboard and take lots of notes. i don't know what his current prices are, but if they doubled, you would still get a bargain. Mark has done wonderful things for the CBA, he's worth a looksee.
   mike-hr - Saturday, 03/27/04 02:01:12 EST

Hot VS cold rolled steel: What can you tell me. I've heard that hot is better for forge welding, and I've noticed that the cold is more pricey than the hot at my local outlet. What's the hub-ub, if you please.
Thanks so much
   Wendy Lawrence - Saturday, 03/27/04 02:08:19 EST

Hornedtoad Jon - Candle Cups
How do you forge a candle cup from 3/4" black iron?
http://www.iforgeiron.com --> blueprints --> BP-0038 has 12 ways to form candle pans and cups including using black iron pipe. BP0096Leaf_Cup.htm specifically uses sch 40 pipe.

http://www.anvilfire.com/iForge/ has several demos on candle holders, but none that I saw using black iron pipe.
   - Conner - Saturday, 03/27/04 02:52:42 EST

Hornedtoad Jon and Candle cups,

The anvilfire iForge demo #104 shows a candle cup/ball combo being forges from black iron pipe. Perhaps the ball could be forged square to make what you want. Demo #143 also shows a simple and effective tool for flairing the cup.

   eander4 - Saturday, 03/27/04 03:25:30 EST

WENDY LAWRENCE; You might as well buy the hot rolled anyway, because once you bring cold rolled up to forging heat, you've pretty much negated the effects of the cold rolling process.
   3dogs - Saturday, 03/27/04 04:33:12 EST

Wendy Lawrence,
Cold rolled steel is rot rolled steel that went through an additional cold finishing step. Usually used in the as finished condition for its better surface condition and it is usually much closer tolerence for demension. Ie a 3/8" diameter bar will actually be very close to 3/8", and have a smoth finish. The hot rolled has a scaled,mill finish, and is more loosly tolerenced. Hot rolled and cold finished steel of the same material is equal as soon as it gets in the forge.
   ptree - Saturday, 03/27/04 10:00:30 EST

Re: hot VS cold:
Well, hmmm. That may be the reason my dies don't fit my guillotine tool very well...
Thank you!
   Wendy Lawrence - Saturday, 03/27/04 11:46:35 EST

Hot vs. Cold

Hot roll is as-rolled from the mill, has scale and the tolerances are +/- ???.

Cold drawn is rolled or die drawn to a tight tolerance of +.000 -.005. The procesing to size compresses the surface grain work hardening it. This hard surface under tension can cause warpage when machined off one side. Normally it is a better or tighter chemistry (SAE 1018-20) than hot roll which is usualy A-36. As it starts out clean it should actually be better for forge welding.

The primary reason smiths choose hot roll it price. But some sizes are only available in CF bar. Cold is springier which is good or bad depending on the application. Hot has a scaled surface which blends better AS-IS with forged ends.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/27/04 13:43:55 EST

Interesting lesson learned this morning. At least it was interesting to me. ;) I was trying to drill the holes in some forged wall hooks (material was 1/4" CRS), and making very little progress, breaking drill bits left and right. Checked speed, feed, cutting fluid, etc, and all was as it should be. Normally I just peel off those nice curly chips. Finally occurred that I might have work hardened the parts with the finishing heat. Took them all out and annealed, then came back to the drill press and all was well.

"Before I had heard about this, but now I have seen..."

   Steve A - Saturday, 03/27/04 16:48:02 EST

I have a pinback advertising "The Perfect Power Hammer" manufactured by MacCowan and Finican Foundry & Machine Co., St. Louis, Mo. I am almost positive the pin dates from 1904 or perhaps even earlier. Does anybody know anything about this company or the product? Thanks for your consideration.
   Doug Phillips - Saturday, 03/27/04 17:20:48 EST

Howdy folks, I hope that you all might be able to point me in the right right direction. I am a 29 year old history teacher who just finished my Master's Degree in History (My focus was in Anglo-Saxon history). I have done living histories and re-enactments ranging from a Roman Auxiliary to a Confederate private. I have absolutely NO experience in metal working but wish to start into it as a hobby. It is my desire to start from the beginning. I would one day like to be able to produce a Saxon spearpoint, Viking axehead, or even a Iron nail! However, my current interest is with ancient metallurgy using copper and bronze. I have searched high and low for books that teach the ancient techniques of copper and bronzeworking as used by our ancestors around 3,500 years ago. I am looking to learn how to make copper and bronze tools for a better understanding of that period of history. If there are any good books or articles out there that could help me get started, please let me know. Maybe I can create my own fish-hook, sickle, or hoe from copper or bronze. Thanks for the help!

Jason Turner (Riedsville, North Carolina)
   Jason Turner - Saturday, 03/27/04 18:08:58 EST

Um, I'm new to blacksmithing, and was wondering if one could use a fire as a form of forge...stupid question, that it is. By fire, I mean a pile of logs burning in the yard...
   Ereinion - Saturday, 03/27/04 19:39:03 EST

Doug Phillips- i have a 'perfect' 80# hammer. I finally got it going a couple weeks ago. It uses a leaf spring -toggle arm setup. The book 'pounding out the profits' says Macgowan and Finnigan started in 1903, producing hammers thru the 1920's. Mine says patent 1907 on it. The hammer has pretty good control, i'm still learning it, but i can single-tap, or hard repeat blows on it.
   mike-hr - Saturday, 03/27/04 19:55:39 EST

Vicopper: Why does the kiln shelf have to be supported? Would it get too hot by laying on my fire brick bottom? And what kind of clearance are you talking about? 1/2" or 1"? And just how fragile is that thing? Do you have to take great care with banging it about with your steel?
   Bob H - Saturday, 03/27/04 21:05:49 EST

Forge Fire: Ereinion, Almost any fire can be used to create enough heat but it requires extra air blown on it. Forges have consisted from everything from a hole in the ground burning charcoal to heavy commercial cast iron behemoths. What is important is a carbon rich fuel (charcoal, coal, oil, propane, natural gas) and a controlable air supply. The air is blown into the base of the fire and is regulated to create the hotest fire with the least air. Too much air and the fire over oxides the iron. Too little air and the fire is not hot enough. This careful regulation is why a bellows or hand crank blower works so well. The hand operation gives the same control as breathing on the fire.

See our Getting Started article and plans page.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/27/04 21:30:26 EST

Bronze Smithing: Jason, The technology of the time is only vaguely known. Some of the best knowledge comes from a few Greek Vase paintings by "The Foundry Painter" (search for them). However, the forming of all metals is pretty much the same and if you study blacksmithing most of the methos are similar.

The trick to Bronze Age recreation is learning to make the most of primitive tools and techniques. First, most bronze implements were cast. Both sand casting and lost wax were used. Mass produced items like weapons were often made in reusable soap stone molds. The only hammering was to work harden the edges and stiffen the metal. Not a great deal of shaping was done. Modern jewelery making techniques apply to most bronze age manufacturing methods EXCEPT the use of modern steel tools (a great disadvantage).

Primitive bronze working was done with stone age tools. Stone hammers, stone anvils and flint scrapers would have been used. A knowlege of flint knapping was required. The height of the Bronze Age coincided with the begining of the Iron Age as iron and stel tools became available to work bronze. Classical Greece was one of these transitional societies.

Melting and casting of bronze was done in both crucibles and coupla furnaces. Crucibles are much easier to use especially when small quantities of metal is melted. Early crucibles were clay. This sounds simple but early potters and metal workers knew about refractory clays as well or better than modern workers.

So your decision it just HOW primitive or historicaly accurate you want to be. If you study brass/bronze casting anywhere you will learn the techniques necessary. Then you can decide if you want to use low quality home made clay crucibles or modern graphite and silicon carbide crucibles. Also most small modern melting furnaces use fuel oil or propane. But charcoal (the real stuff, not briquettes work). You will need an air supply (blower, bellows, wine skins). However, the quality of the work has nothing to do with the melting method. A sand mold is a sand mold and dangerous liquid metal can be made equally well with a gas furnace or in a pit forge.

For general blacksmithing from a historical point of view get a copy of Alex Bealer's The Art of Blacksmithinf (see our book review page).

Then look for books on or take a course in non-ferrous metal casting. Look for books by C.W. Ammen and see our book review page for books by Stephen Chastain. The book by Dona Meilach Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork also covers some non-ferrous methods including raising a vessle and brass forging. See our Armoury page for examples of raising steel. The techniques for brass/bronze are almost identical.

With enough knowledge and persistance you can go into your back yard, gather natural materials and scrap and go to work. Make your own charcoal (see our FAQs page), make a groundhog kiln (Foxfire #??) and create your own crucibles, convert the kiln to a pit forge or melting furnace (or build another), make sand molds from creek sand (petro bond is infinitely easier) and pour away.

Getting to this level of "primitive" knowledge can take a lifetime of study. The enjoyment is in the pursuit of the knowledge.

I can do it the hard way, but I much prefer modern tools.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/27/04 22:12:25 EST

Spring Helve Hammers: All these machines have an optimum speed and a natural resonance point where they try to self destruct. Generally the stiffer the spring the faster they can run. Loose floppy (long) springs hit natural resonance at very low frequencies. Short stiff springs (relative to the mass) can run at high frequencies.

The trick is to find the right balance. This means trial and error and a lot of guess work. Even commercial hammer springs went through lots of testing and tweeking.

In home built hammers it is probably best to run slow to avoid exploding parts. It is always dissapointing to build a machine that fails. But when you are attempting an engineering job with no knowledge you should expect failures and just try again. If you don't have this kind of persistance and a relaxed attitude toward failure then scrap the machine and buy a working power hammer from a reputable manufacture. I guarantee it will work as soon as you get it.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/27/04 22:23:17 EST

Hardened Hooks: Steve, This often comes from forging a thin tab for the hook. The thin metal cools fast enough between hammer and anvil to harden (like quenching). Often it helps to change the order of opperations. I always heat and twist my hooks after making the tab. That next heat tempers OR anneals the thin tab. I have also run into this problem making small 1/4" and 3/16" drive hooks. I clamp them in the vise and make the corner bend with a hammer. Often the clamping in the vise and hammering tight against it combine to quench the corner making it brittle. . resulting in it breaking when you try to drive it in.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/27/04 22:30:40 EST

Jason Turner,

Welcome to Anvilfire. While we're mostly blacksmiths here, beating hot iron, some of us have done a fair bit of work with non-ferrous metals. I have, and I'll try to give you a bit of what little I know. I'm sorry to say that there is very little written from the period of the second millennium BC, though. Not enough literate folks back then, I guess. You will find more written in the second millenium AD, but the techniques are fundamentally the same no matter what the time period.

You might look at Treatises on Goldsmithing and Sculpture by Bienvenutto Cellini,(c. 1550); Divers Arts by Theophilus (c.1125); The Pirotechnia of Vanocchio Biringuccio (c. 1530) or De Re Metallica by Agricola (c. 1550). All are available as a Dover reprints. All of them will give you an idea of the processes involved.

Copper is found as a free metal in some places, and is easily smelted fron its native ore. I have read theories that copper was discovered as an accident in campfire ashes, which is perfectly reasonable. Copper's melting point could be achieved in a wood fire that was vigorously fanned. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin and could be produced much the same way. The addition of tin, a very soft metal with a low melting point, makes copper much harder, making it useful for tools.

Once you have looked into the texts mentioned above, check your local library for textbooks on jewelry making, which will give you the "modern" version of the techniques necea=ssary for making the implements you mentioned. As I said, the techniques used today are fundamentally NO different than those used a thousand or more years ago. You can still smelt copper and make bronze using charcoal and a blowpipe. From the crude lump, you simply hammer it into the shape you desire, annealing (softening) it periodically by heating it to just a low red heat and then quenching in water. When the shape is sufficiently refined by hammering, it is left in the work-hardened state and the final finish is done by abrading with stones and then rock dust. A final polish can be achieved by using a paste of pumice on a piece of leather.

If you want to do it the way it was done before the time of Christ, use a rock for a hammer and a rock for an anvil. Another sharp-edged rock such as a flint will make a very satisfactory scraper to replace the file that wasn't invented until much later. It is actually quite enjoyable to try the primitive way as a learning exercise.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/27/04 22:32:16 EST

Yesterday we stopped in a little town west of here and the first thing on mainstreet was and old abbanded blacksmith shop and mean a blacksmith shop, complete with a forge in the middle of the building, a bilt driven grinder and drillpress and maybe something else I dont remember I guess I was in aue at seeing all that. It appreantly had an electric motor running the equipment but it wasnt in sight, may not have been there. What did I find? Is this anything of intrest to the blacking buffs, I think it could be but you never know.
   Albert J. Radke - Saturday, 03/27/04 22:37:50 EST

Kiln shelf:

Bob, when I said I supported it on kiln posts, I was not clear enough. I should have noted that in my forges, the kiln shelf is the only "bottom" that the firebox has. I don't use any firebricks below the kiln shelf, just Kaowool scraps and then the metal shell. I fyo are using soft firebrick, the kiln shelf can rest right on the bricks. If you're using hard firebricks, you probably don't need to use kiln shelf, just coat the bricks with ITC-100 or kiln wash.

Kiln shelf, particularly the silicon carbide type, are amazingly strong, but they can be broken. They come in different thicknesses, 1/2", 3/4", and 1". I use the 1" and have had no problems with breakage at all. In kilns, it is common to have unsupported spans of a foot or more with a significant load of pottery on it, so it will hold up well in a forge if you aren't in the habit of dropping large hunks of steel on it. I shove 1-1/2" square bar up to a couple of feet long into mine, sometimes having it slip out of the tongs, and I haven't broken a forge bottom yet. Yet. Having said that, I'm sure to break one within the week, I'm sure. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/27/04 22:45:48 EST

i am searching for premade parts for barbarian swords i have the steel for the blade but i need parts for the hilt
if anyone knows of a site that sells these thing please let me know, I dont have all the skills and equipment to cast my own.
   Asdrubael_Vect - Saturday, 03/27/04 23:19:32 EST

Wood fired forges; Ereinion:

When we were up at L'Anse aux Meadows for the Leif Ericson Millennium in 2000 they didn't have ANY charcoal for their forges. We taught them how to make it, but in the meantime we did most of our work feeding in wood from the back (softwood at that) and raking the coals to the front where we got the work done. Besides being slower, it made the Viking style forge building VERY smokey. We still managed to get a lot of work done and repair a number of axe heads for the local crew and some of the British Viking reenactors.

Bronze and A-S Spearheads; Jason:

Don't neglect the possibilities of rough casting and then working the surfaces with files, punches and cold-forging techniques. Casting is tricky, but many not-so-pretty but sound casts can be saved with good follow-up work using these techniques. You might also find my articles on A-S spearheads in the Anvilfire Armoury of some interest, if you haven't stumbled across them already.

Have we met? (It's hard for me to keep track 'cause we all have three names due to different periods of reenactment. ;-)

Sword Furniture; Asdrubael:

There's some nice early-medieval hilt components at: http://www.quietpress.com/swordfittings.html which is part of Raymond's Quiet Press at:


Mild and partly cloudy on the banks of the lower Potomac. Good work session on the longship today; cut away the dryrotted quarter-rail under the gun'l on the starboard quarter and prepared the beams to hoist up the ship to repair the trailer. Finished putting the tools back in the forge after Military Through the Ages. Now to recover enough from "the cough" to actually get some smithing done.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 03/28/04 00:30:04 EST

Concerning working a power hammer without a guard, or any other unsafe activity, please remeber:

"Are you sure you're enjoying this enough to do it the rest of your life?"

(Life can be so short)
   Andy Martin - Sunday, 03/28/04 00:31:41 EST

Has anyone bought a Chinese made Anyang Pneumatic Hammer and can evaluate whether its worth buying. I'm looking for a trip hammer. Preferred one is a 25 or 50 lb Little Giant that I've used in the past. But I'm also looking at Big Blue and Anyang Pneumatic Hammers. Description for the Anyang was quite impressive, but it was a sales
pitch. Please let me know if an Anyang is worth buying. I did a search on the Internet for the Anyang Pneumatic Hammer but I could find no feedback about the quality of the hammer.

HAMMER MODEL C41-15 C41-40 C41-75

Ram Weight 33lbs. 88 lbs. 165 lbs.

Hits per Minute 240 210 210

Price $3,333.00 $5,950.00 $9,950.00


   Thomas Morstad - Sunday, 03/28/04 01:14:37 EST

thomas- I have an anyang hammer. mine is a 2 piece 40kg- or an 88lb hammer, but I would recommend a 1 piece instead- anvil alignment and base construction is not worth the 2 piece anvil on a hammer this small. Basically a C41-40.
I bought it from Stryker- evidently he brought in a few anyangs before he finalised on his current hammer supplier.
I have had it for almost 3 years now, and it gets pretty heavy use. The basic hammer is a good machine- solid castings and the machining on the cylinders seems good as well. I dislike the fact that they put bondo on the casting before painting it, as bondo tends to burn when touched with red hot steel. But I really like the mass of the frame, which is probably 2- 3 times the weight of a 25lb little giant. It is a very controllable pleasant hammer to use. We do a lot of forging on it, and it has given us no problems. It is pretty quiet, and I like a self contained hammer over a mechanical or a utility hammer like the big blue- I use my compressor to run other tools, and would probably have to buy a whole nother compressor to run a utility hammer, adding to the noise and upkeep expenses.
My criticisms would be- the electricals supplied with the hammers are pretty cheesy- I would expect to have to buy an good american made mag starter from grainger. The motor itself seems fine. The oiling system has never worked quite right on mine, either- its either swimming in oil, or getting none at all. Again, an american made drip oiler, for 50 bucks or so, will solve that problem.
My other concern would be parts and service- I would grill the guy in california who is currently importing them, and see what he stocks in terms of parts, and ask him what has gone wrong on previous hammers, and how he has fixed them.
If he seems like he is just a warehouse and a phone, I would consider buying a similar hammer from striker- he sells a very similar, but he says, better, chinese hammer, and I know he stands behind them. He has made an effort to market them to blacksmiths, advertising and showing up at conferences, and he is a good guy to deal with. Hopefully, you will never need service, but its nice to know its there if you do. The downside is that his hammers are a little more expensive than the anyangs, but I dont feel like anyang as a company has a big commitment to the north american hammer market. Hey, maybe I will be proven wrong, but they make all kinds of other stuff for the domestic chinese manufacturing market, and I think thats where there real interest and profit lies.
So if you are willing to take the risk of having an orphan, and fixing it yourself, you can save a few bucks with anyang. And since every owner of a Nazel and Chambersburg is in the same situation, and they seem to be able to keep em running, and since an anyang is basically a chambersburg clone, that is not too big of a risk.
   ries - Sunday, 03/28/04 01:45:37 EST

I occaisionaly heat old rusty bolts and nuts with a torch, then use my wrenches and sockets to remove them. They get too hot to touch, but never obtain any color (glow). Could I be annealing them?
   Jim Donahue - Sunday, 03/28/04 02:31:53 EST

i have a question about the curl on the end of an s-hook. what are the opinions about curling in verses curling it out? will an inward curl help hold on or just get in the way when unhooking something?

i was making some bike storage hooks and on the second one i realised that i didn't know why i was curling them inward.
   john tobako - Sunday, 03/28/04 03:25:50 EST

The masters have spoken....but another aspect to add is that bronze, copper and brass can all be worked hot ( with a few alloy exceptions) quite nicely. The trick, as with most metals, is to stay within the proper temperature range for the alloy. Copper is very forgiving that way and can be forged all the way from a red heat to cold. It is quicker and more direct than casting. Not all ancient work was cast..except castinetts.
Asdrubael_Vect : I'd suggest seeing the barbarians about that.
Thomas: Anyang was unwilling to back up their stuff early on..( and they came with problems)though they'd be happy to tell you what they thought you wanted to hear. The motors that came with them were crap.Whether they have gotten better of late. I don't know
Jim D; Heating carbon steel past about 350 degrees F means losing some of the temper, or moving towards softening. Even mild steel bolts are work hardened to some degree and are affected by heat. The hotter it gets past that, the closer to annealing you get. Look for the radial hash marks on the top of the bolt head. The more it has, the more it will be bothered by heat. In higher carbon bolts, once the piece is red hot, the rate of cooling determines the hardness. A hot bolt in a big cold mass of steel may cool very quickly and become brittle. But sometimes it's the only way to get them out. If it's structurally critical, consider replacing a heated bolt. Last it's possible to blow the temper on a thin socket or wrench when applied to a red hot bolt for more than a second or 2 without cooling in water. This results in blowing your own temper.
   Pete F - Sunday, 03/28/04 04:28:56 EST

Reading the above about using kiln shelves to protect firebrick from flux I was wondering if a shelf made from castable refractory (Mizzou) would last long enough to be worth the effort to cast it ? Or is a kiln shelf the way to go for longevity despite the cost ?
thank you

- C
   Chris Smith - Sunday, 03/28/04 07:58:38 EST

Albert: Yes that shop would be very interesting to B.S. buffs. Ummm... little town west of Where? You sure its abandoned? Sometimes its hard to tell. :-)
   Gronk - Sunday, 03/28/04 08:29:57 EST

End curls: I believe the traditional form is to curl them outward. I have one from a very early effort that I curled inward before I learn you put the open throat of the curl UP and curl it down over the horn....unless you use scrolling pliers in which case yer on yer own.....
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/28/04 08:38:07 EST

Jason, if you have not already done so, do a search for "archeo-metallurgy". There is a website out of the UK that is pretty good, and a few more from the US. They are sponsored by organizations that might be of some help to you.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/28/04 08:44:43 EST

Hi, I am trying to do some research for a movie that I am working on in Los Angeles. The movie takes place in the 1850's.There is a blacksmith who makes gold mining gear, such as picks,and shovels. I am trying to locate the blacksmith tools that he might use in his shop to create the mining equipment. Would you have these tools for purchase or possibly for rent. Or would you have any good photos of these tools to recreate them. Thanks for your help Ritchie
   ritchie - Sunday, 03/28/04 11:26:49 EST

Anyang Hammers: Thomas, Note that a bunch of folks on the West Coast bought a container load of Anyang hammers and most have never been able to be run due to the incompatibility of the electrics and Anyang not taking into consideration that 50 Hz (their frequency) and 60Hz (our frequency) is a 20% difference in operating speed and load (need different pullies). These folks bought a container load of machines and never got any satisfaction from Anyang after YEARS of negotiations.

Striker, an advertiser here, uses another factory AND has had them modify the machines so that they WORK in the US.

For about a year Anyang was spamming the entire blacksmithing industry. After dozens of attempts to contact them we finaly wrote a nasty editorial about them in our news and THAT got their attention and they finally stopped spamming. However, prior to that I had discussions with them (as a technical consultant for an importer) about correcting errors in their manuals and making the machines compatible to US standards. All assurances were made. . . just as they did the West Coast Import group. But nothing was done.

If you want to buy a Chinese hammer get it from Striker. They back their product and will take care of you.

Beware of some of the cheap Turkish clones of Kuhns. Some work, some do not. If you want a Kuhn buy the real thing from Centaur Forge.

Before buying a hammer it helps to try them out. The operating characteristics between self contained and non-self contained is considerable. Air compressor noise is NOT an issue. You can put your air compressor outdoors but the noise of the self contained hammer is right where you are and makes a much noisier shop.

A 25-50 pound LG is far from the same class as the machines being discussed. The small air hammers are much more flexible and controllable AND can produce much more work for the same money as a rebuilt LG.

Note that for the price of the 165# Anyang you can get TWO American Made 110# Big BLU's OR a massively heavy industrial duty 150# Phoenix Hammer.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/28/04 11:46:36 EST

Over Heating Wrenches: Jim, All my mechanics tools are either chrome plated or have black oxide finishes. Neither will show temper color until heated to a RED heat (or greater). Temper colors from heating to where the hardness changes starts as Pete noted (ON BARE CLEAN STEEL) around 350°F and continues to a blue at 600°F and then becomes grey oxide. There are metalurgical changes throughout this range. On your plated wrenches you cannot see the difference.

Good quality wrenches are made from tough medium/high carbon alloy steels that are tempered at a fairly high temperature to prevent brittleness and possible breakage. Heating to anything below the original tempering temperature will not hurt them. Cheap wrenches (like found at many fleamarkets) are made of inexpensive plain carbon steel and IF made right carefully tempered to just the right point. These are more likely to be damaged by heating than the high quality alloy steel wrenches.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/28/04 12:00:16 EST

Gold Rush Era Tools Ritchie, will answer by mail. But check the old catalog CD's we sell (book review page).
   - guru - Sunday, 03/28/04 12:03:10 EST

question on proceedures for finishing edges of new anvil
   fred - Sunday, 03/28/04 12:04:20 EST

Hook Ends: John, A lot depends on the style and purpose of the hook. I make decorative hooks with the curl OUT. This is a gracefull reversal of the curve as in the rest of an S hook. I do J-hooks the same. For hanging clothes you want a large ball or bean end that doen't poke hole in the material. I have seen these forged as acorns and even duck heads.

Almost every scroll termination can be used on a hook but you need to thing about the use. Sharp points are dangerous BUT are needed for meat hooks and often horse tack is hung on pointed hooks because it slips over the end well in both directions without hanging.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/28/04 12:58:40 EST

More on Brass/Bronze: Much of the hammered stock was sheet. The sheet started out as a cast slab and was hammered or rolled thiner and smoother. In the film, "Williamsburg Gunsmith" the fellow casts a slightly thick sheet, then uses flatters and anvil to smooth, thin and harden the stock. Afterwards it is cut, sawed and filed to make the needed pieces. SO, no sheet available MAKE IT. But casting was the starting point.

Brass and bronze bar stock are made the same way. A long billet is cast. Then the rough sand cast finish is dressed then the bar is annealed and hammered, drawn or rolled. Very fine bar and wire was hand drawn from early times. About 1300 AD a wire drawing mill in Europe (Germany I think) was mas producing brass wire. Brass strung musical instruments date from that time. Wire drawing was already a specialty and when it became an industrial proscess it was even more so. However, many jewlers still make their own custom wire from the alloy of their choice today. In each case it usualy starts with cast material.

So, starting with cast material is THE Bronze Age rule. Iron and steel are different and the small craftsperson or smith amlost NEVER casts steel or ductile wrought.

Bronze Age Tools: One of our summer research projects is to make a pair of cast bronze tongs, hammer and anvil. These tools were used to work brass, bronze, copper, silver and gold. BUT they can probably be used for working wrought iron to a limited degree. The trick is that brass or bronze tongs will conduct heat VERY quickly and must be quenched often. The copper alloys also melt at the temperatures that iron is often worked AND picked up. However, the tongs can be used on the cooler part of the metal. The trick will be how the bronze hammer and anvil hold up. I suspect they will work fine as long as the iron isvery hot and soft.

Too many projects. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/28/04 13:14:43 EST

Asdrubael, having identical fittings is pretty much against the early times zeitgeist, are you sure you want to go that way?

Early sword furnature can run from very simple like a couple of chunks of wrought iron to very complex CF the sword of Childeric or the sutton hoo sword furnature.

BTW you do realize that barbarian swords were short, 30" is a good blade length, and fairly wide, up to 2" the sides generally were fairly parallel and fullers were common.

Now if you mean *fantasy* barbarian swords, that's different...
Thomas back to the bit mines in chile
   - ThomasP - Sunday, 03/28/04 13:53:27 EST

Furniture: In sword making the furniture is the easy FUN part. Working soft steel, brass, wood, bone, wire, leather is ALL much easier than the hard steel blade. Don't know why anyone would want to BUY it and avoid the easy part!

That is. . . unless the blade you are making is just sawed out a piece of mild steel or SS with short ground bevels on it. In that case to be appropriate to the style and blade type the furniture can be made of bondo or the new hardenable plastic modeling clay. Just mold it onto the tang to fit your hand and let harden. I've made gear shift knobs and grip fit hammer handles that way from metal filled epoxy.

The cheapo low cost flea market fantasy swords have cast on zinc alloy furniture cast around the tang. This can be done using sand casting, graphite or plaster molds OR permanent steel molds. Casting steel inserts into zinc OR zinc on steel is a common modern production practice. Since the furniture is made ON the sword it is not available as "parts".

Or, as Thomas noted, the early furniture was often straight flat bar for guard and pomel. The full tang was wraped with leather to pad slightly. It should take about half an hour to make and finish the parts. A little longer if you fit them carefully and polish. Bronze age swords were often cast with the simple guard and pomel integral to the blade. These were quick and dirty swords that were converted back into cast plowshares as soon as the winter period of war was over and it was time to plant again (or starve). This much predates the phrase "beating swords into plowshares" which is an Iron age saying. . . but was probably based on some earlier Summerian that made a good phrase.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/28/04 15:02:52 EST

Jason if you are interested in the smelting end of it "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity", Rehder, will provide a lot of info on biomass furnaces


Coffee is good our here!
   - ThomasP - Sunday, 03/28/04 15:14:09 EST

ptree,& guru:
Thankyou very much for your input on the spring helve hammer I built. I took your advice and shortened the spring. It works much better. Used it to draw out a billet of damascus I had welded up a few months back, but just couldn't get up the energy to hammer it out by hand. I believe I can still hit harder with my 4 lb. hand hammer, than my homemade power hammer, but it (so far) doesn't need a break.

Still have a ways to go with this hammer to get it to deliver the kind of power I want, I think next I will add a short leaf to the top, and try increasing the power of the motor from 1/2hp to a 2 hp.

Again thankyou both for the help, Keith
   Keith - Sunday, 03/28/04 20:04:36 EST

Forgot to mention that Shire Books has one out on Egyptian metal working with lots of nice shots of wall paintings, minatures, etc.

Thomas Class is done, back to Santiago tomorrow
   - ThomasP - Sunday, 03/28/04 20:16:28 EST

Hi guys, I've found a cold chisel(I think thats what it is, cut through 1/2" mild steel in 8 blows with no damage to the end) and it's pretty old. I was wondering if anyone knows from whence this chisels came -- the chisels is hexagonal is most likely hand forged(is not totaly even; this is not from wear) and on one side says:
Thanks WL
   Walker - Sunday, 03/28/04 22:01:44 EST

Walker, it is probably not hand made but factory made by Stanley Tools of Canada. A hand made tool would probably not have been stamped "Made in Canada". Stanley makes a pretty good tool but made better ones years ago and yours might be antique. It is very difficult to establish the age just by looking at it. I have seen modern tools that were so abused they looked like antiques!
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/28/04 22:19:07 EST

Oh yeah forgot to ask does anyone know the book "The Complete Modern Blocksmith"(a coagulation of "The Making of Tools", "The Modern Blacksimth", and "The Recycling, Use, and Repair of Tools") all by Alexander G. Weygers is ok for a beginner?
   Walker - Sunday, 03/28/04 22:23:01 EST

Thanks -- your probably right about the hand made part. Mine is probably just one of the not so perfect ones. Or maybe the moron who tried to resharpen the edged just got jittery with his grinder. :)
   Walker - Sunday, 03/28/04 22:30:41 EST

Jock: Tried several times to order some ITC 100 from the store, but can't get past the login page. I used the same password I have for CSI, but no go. I even tried coming in without my CSI link, but still no go. I'll call you tomorrow, I guess.

Never thought I'd say it, but I sure do like my homemade gas forge. Convienient as heck. Especially when all my coal forges are packed up for moving. And in between packing stuff, if I want just a little play time, I can fire that thing up and play right now. Takes about a minute or two for the fire brick to start warming up, and away I go. It is so neat, my neighbor wants to build one now.
   Bob H - Sunday, 03/28/04 22:53:18 EST

Walker and Weyger:-)

There is little that is out and out wronge with the Weyger books, and for a beginner they are a reasonably good start especially if you can get the book cheap:-) But Weyger was an artist and came to blacksmithing from a need to make the tools he needed to do his other art. Sometimes he does not approach a project like a traditionally trained blacksmith would. This can be good and bad:-) Most people speak pretty highly of Alex Bealer, and recommend his book for beginners. (Personally I do not really like either books, but I am picky:-)

Read the GETTING STARTED in Blacksmithing section (It is important enough that it is at the top of the page and the bottom of the page as well!!!:-) It lists a sellection of good intro books to get you started...
   Fionnbharr - Sunday, 03/28/04 23:16:13 EST

Well I have decided that the kind of smithing I do will vary. I'm going to try a little bit of everything and just practice with scrap that I can find around. I was wondering if anyone had any good "How to" websites to look at for making useful things, tools, knives, and such. I've already checked up on iForge it had a lot of very helpful information. I'm getting ready to go to Barnesanoble and find a few books on blacksmithing. Any sites you may know of will really help.
   Danaan Henry - Sunday, 03/28/04 23:55:34 EST

I have the Weyger book and the Bealer one, while there was alot of interesting historical information and a good look at how some unusual projects might be approached, I personally found alot more useful general beginer knowledge in the Weyger.
   AwP - Monday, 03/29/04 02:12:13 EST

er, reading my post I see I wasn't clear, the Bealer was the one interesting historically/unusual projects, the Weyger more useful generally.
   AwP - Monday, 03/29/04 02:13:55 EST

I have been checking out this site for some time, started when i started building my first forge(brake drum- type). I finally finished it today(arc welding steel to cast iron is tough) and christened my forge with it's and my, first coal fire. I have a few questions I would love to ask.

1. What does the neutral flame look like in a coal fire?

2. About how much air circulation is desirable in a small fire?

3. What is the best way to develop the nice heating cave using a dry fire?

4. And what is minimum and maximum desirable coal piece size for a small fire?

Thank you very much for your time spent in reading and answering my questions.
   Joe Richardson - Monday, 03/29/04 02:24:15 EST

I like the Weyger book(s) for it's approach if nothing else..a good place for a guy on a very small budget to start.It helped me.
But, uh, where he advises you to squint when grinding instead of getting good eye protection...ignore that part! Get other basic books as you are able.
Danaan:There's a deceptively large amount of info right here at Anvilfire. Look in the nooks and crannies. There is also a giant bunch of links to everything else that's related. For example, Norm Larson, the booksmith, has a great selection of the best metalworking books at good prices...he'd be happy to point you in the right direction for books.
   Pete F - Monday, 03/29/04 03:50:04 EST

i'm new to the art of blacksmithing. i just bought an anvil to aid me in my current projects, chainmaille. i need to be able to cut up some springs i got from my broken trampoline. as i recall, the springs are tempered, so i was advised to use a chisel and anvil to cut the spring into rings. my question is what type of hammer do i need to use to strike the chisel? i've seen lots of different styles.
   mithrilmailler - Monday, 03/29/04 04:03:17 EST

Hello Guru (and all),
(A question about forge fuels)
I am a committed amature blacksmith (residing in Southern British Columbia, Canada - right above the north-western part of Washington state) who has been smithing for a few years now. I am in the progress of a large forge change (even changing it's name). Construction on a new smithy starts soon as this is my "upscale" phase. I have done well with the simple outdoor forge and am now moving into a proper forge shop setup. I plan on having a coal table forge of about 30" x 42" with a side-draft chimney fed by a side-blast forge. I am going to use a 110v blower that is currently on the forge I am using now, so I will have constant air capabilities.

What I am debating is the use of coal or coke. I started with charcoal and enjoyed its cleanlyness, but I was spending more time making it than forging. Moved on to some heating coal out of alberta. Nasty stuff but gets the job done (forge welding too if you're careful). The next fuel I had the pleasure of using was decent bituminous coal but in crushed form, making it difficult to use with all of the fines and general sandy-gravel consistency. What I ideally want is good lump blacksmith's coal, but it is too expensive to import by the bag from he eastern seaboard. I was speaking to an Alberta blacksmith (the next western province from where I am situated) looking for coal suppliers and unfortunately he didn't know of any but mentioned that he gets coke hauled for $800 a tonne (out of Pennsylvania).

My delemma is whether to stick with my coal pursuit or to switch to another fuel type and run coke. I have very little knowledge of burning straight coke other than it is very clean, apparently has lower BTU's than green coal, and will go out if you stop the air flow. Please fill me in so that I can make a wise decission.

By the way, if anyone knows of a bulk coal retailer within 700 miles (approximatel) of wher I am I would greatly appreciate it if you passed the info on. I feel like I'm stuck between a clinker and a firepoker on this one.

Thank you very much,
   Stephan P - Monday, 03/29/04 05:13:57 EST

Yeah Pete, I've been looking all over Anvilfire and looking at the other links and such, I was only able to find one site so far on the general "how to" of knife making. But I'll most definently look into getting a few books.
   Danaan Henry - Monday, 03/29/04 07:41:00 EST

Mail Maker: DO NOT CUT SPRINGS *COLD* ON YOUR ANVIL. IF you want to cut spring steel springs without messing up their temper you need something like a foredom hand piece with a slitting wheel. (I've burned up a dremel doing this very thing before).

If you are willing to loose the temper I would make a special hardy with an overhang to the cutting edge that will fit inside the coil. Heat one side of the coil to a good red heat, shove it onto the overhang and hit with a copper or brass hammer, repeat 27 zillion times. The cut edges will have tapers that need to be dressed to get a good joint.

Cutting with a abrasive slitting wheel will leave very nice edges but you may need to overlap them afterwards.

Cutting things on the anvil face with a cold chisel is much like using your favorite CD as a cutting board when cooking---just not a good idea...

Next: you can forge using *all* bituminous fines. You mix it with water and build the fire area and then light it. They coke into a structure that you then treat just like
coked nut coal.

BTW *what* are you making? Large scale forgings will profit more from coke than small decorative work.

Now a "neutral" fire in a coal forge is what happens *inside* the stack of fuel, so it looks like a heap of coal...the flames on top may range in colour and size due to how well coked and what type of coal you are using.

How much air---just enough for the forge, fuel and task *YOU* are working with. Generally it's a lot less than people would guess---check your piece: if it's burning up or scaling heavily you have too much air, if it takes a long time to heat or doesn't come up to temp, you need more air.

Now a forge is not a static thing you may be adjusting the air each heat sometimes.

Many fok suggest starting a small coal fire then placing a piece of wood on top of it and covering it with more coal and turning the air on low. When the wood burns out you have a cave.

Minimum is dust, max is nut coal---I like clean nut coal to pea coal mixed.

   - ThomasP - Monday, 03/29/04 09:02:10 EST

Joe Richardson: The flame is clean and neutral when it's kind of blue at the surface of the coal. Look at your fire with no air blast (reducing fire), maximum air blast (oxidizing fire, usually), and somewhere between these two extremes is where you should be. As for amount of air, Thomas said it best. Each forge is different, and experience will help teach you how much is enough. As for using the "cave" fire, I don't. No real need to, just keep a big loose pile of coke in the middle so when you put the iron in the fire it's got a little coke on top. There is no minimum coal size, but I don't like fines myself. The biggest chunks should be no more than an inch or two for best air flow. They'l break up in use anyway, so don't worry too much.

Danaan: Get a copy of "The Complete Bladesmith" by Jim Hrisoulas. It's the best beginner how-to on knifemaking out there. And yes, it even talks about swords.
   Alan-L - Monday, 03/29/04 10:02:09 EST

I need help sharpening a straight razor. After forging and rough grinding to shape I tempered it then used a wet grinder to further sharpen it. After this it will cut arm hair however facial hair it will not. I was thinking of trying an very hard fine knife sharpening stone next. Would this be reasonable? I have been told that there are 2 types of strops but I haven't been able to see either type could someone give a description of these and how they are to be used.
   888 - Monday, 03/29/04 10:05:37 EST

Coke vs. Coal: Coke is difficult to start and difficult to keep going. Coal and wood are both used to help maintain the fire when not at full blast. Coke burns VERY hot and can melt the bottom out of a forge is you do not tend the fire closely.

The coal with the fines is used by mizing water with it so that it can be packed into a solid mass. As it cokes down it should glue itself together and make nice lumps of natural coke. If it doesn't glue itself together then it is not a good coking coal.

I would use the fines and learn to use them. In Britian many smiths use nothing but fines or breeze (coal dust and fines).

Each type of fuel requires practice using it.

Neutral Coal Fire: A coal fire varies from place to place from oxidizing to carburizing and depends on depth of the fire, air velocity and coal lump size. Deep fires are easier to keep neutral to carburizing (rich). Use as little air as possible to get the most heat and you have the best possible fire.

   - guru - Monday, 03/29/04 11:49:01 EST

Stephan P, about coal:I had my brother in Calgary pick up two lots of coal from McKinnon's for me. The first was some of the best coal I've used, pea coal that burned clean and heated wonderfully.(It was bagged coal). The second lot was bulk and I highly suspect it was anthracite, large lumps, hard to burn and clinkered badly. Of course my brother wouldn't know good coal from a hole in the ground (he's a city boy :-) ) so if you buy from them you might want to look it over first. It was cheap though.
   Ed Long - Monday, 03/29/04 11:52:38 EST

Stephan P, A second point. DO you have a Home Hardware out there? They can get the really good coal from Schaners.
   Ed Long - Monday, 03/29/04 11:54:00 EST

Links: At one time we had a link to the primary blade forum as a link exchange including their logo. They dropped their links pages so we dropped their's in response.

Store Problems If you get the password/login page on our store you have a browser problem and we have not been able to figure it out. You do not need a password to use our store. CSI members that use the store links from the CSI pages should see no difference in the store other than the discount display.

If you do not have an alternate browser to use with our store then you may call the order in. Phone number is on all the store pages and out home page.
   - guru - Monday, 03/29/04 11:54:13 EST

for beginning books, I gained all kinds of data from "the New Edge of the Anvil". And bealer, and weygers and then a dozen or so other books I have collected over time.

Stephan P: You can probably get charcoal or make charcoal pretty easily in your neck of the woods, so to speak. It is the classic fuel and works well as it has roughly the same BTU per pound, although it is lighter, so a greater volume is required. Barring that, find other smiths in the area and get together to by a ton or two. Our local guild buys in bulk every year and sells at cost to the members.

   Escher - Monday, 03/29/04 12:06:05 EST


Is there any other info available on the Phoenix Hammer, other than what you get from the link above? I saw no specs on the hammer, but it certainly looks well built.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 03/29/04 14:18:11 EST

Question from a breakroom discussion: what exactly makes stainless steel stainless (or at least corrosion resistan ;) As the resident very amateur metallurgist I offered that it was the chromium content, knowing that that was not really the answer that he was looking for. I seem to recall reading that 16% or more chromium is required to call it stainless. And that some other steels with high chromium but less than 16%, like D2 with 14%, are considered corrosion resistant, but not "stainless". But that answer just leads to the question of how chromium makes the steel stainless? Is there some explanation in terms of, well, it forms these compounds, which act like this? Or is this a more empirical matter, where we've figured out from experience with lot of alloys that high chromium confers these properties?


   Steve A - Monday, 03/29/04 14:53:59 EST

888 - A wet grinder is much too coarse an abrasive for a razor. You will need to go on to (in traditional stones) to a Black Arkansas stone followed by a razor hone followed by a strop charged with red rouge.

Since razor hones are difficult to come by, you might work the razor over progressively finer sandpapers (they are available to 8000 grit) adhered to a piece of plate glass.

BTW: it is important for the edge of a razor to be as acute an angle as feasible. Manufactured Razors were radically hollow ground and the spine served as a sharpening guide. The edge was left glass hard (and very brittle)

IIRC Lehman's Hardware of Kidron, OH. (They have a web site) has new straight razors & strops.
   John Lowther - Monday, 03/29/04 14:57:07 EST

Lehman's does have a web site. Search for razors and strop in the search index. Their web site is located at:

   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/29/04 16:22:13 EST


16% Cr is pretty common for many stainless grades, although I think that some of the 12% Cr grades may also fall into this catagory. Chromium is the element generally used to get stainless properties. The Chromium passivates the surface, basically making it unreactive. In the case of some stainless grades, welding will cause the Cr to form Chromium carbides and the area near the weld will loose its stainless properties. So the Cr is necessary, but it has to be in right form to work. That is, the overall chemisty of two pieces of steel might be the same, but one will rust and the other will not. I'd have to seriously review my corrosion notes from college to give a more detailed answer.

   Patrick Nowak - Monday, 03/29/04 16:23:41 EST

Thank you gentlemen for your responses. Charcoal is out of the question for me due to the absolute volume needed as I figure that I will be burning up to two tonnes of coal per year.

Thanks Ed for the tip on home hardware. We do have one and I'll give them a try. Also Ed, do you have a full name / contact information for McKinnon's? I tried finding them on the web with no luck. Failing this I guess I'll stick with the coal fines as coke doesn't sound like it would be too friendly to work with.
   Stephan P - Monday, 03/29/04 16:29:22 EST

It is the chromium oxide that makes stainless steel stainless. CrO2 is pretty inert and not very permeable, either. Forging stainless forms carbides,as Patrick noted, which are not protective the way that chromium oxide is. Worse, contaminating stainless steel by working it with regular steel tools, wire brushes, dirty grinding wheels, etcetera will give rust a place to start. Once it starts, it will continue, as the FeO2 molecule is about twice as large as Fe, and displaces the chromium oxide on the surface.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/29/04 16:33:53 EST

Thank you for the information on razors and link to the lehman's page (they even have a razor hone)
   888 - Monday, 03/29/04 18:27:36 EST


I can take a picture of my hone, if you wish. I have one that is slightly different from Lehman's.
   Paw Paw - Monday, 03/29/04 18:41:33 EST

Guru, Atli, Thomas and all;
Thank you all for the tips on ancient metallurgy and bronzeworking. I am hoping to hunt down some of the readings that you all suggested and get started as soon as possible. My father-in-law restores antique racecars so hopefully he'll let me set up some space behind his shed to start experimenting with the bronze. I'm sure that I'll be picking your brains as I learn more on ancient bronzesmithing. By the way Atli, I don't think we've met in re-enacting but it is possible. I did some Roman stuff with the 20th Legion out of College Park Maryland on a couple of occasions. I did some stuff with them in Maryland and Jamestown Va. and that's part of the reason I want to get into this is because I couldn't even make a brass boss to cover the middle of a shield I made. I also did a lot of Confederate re-enacting with the 42nd Va. Co. F. out of Martinsville Va. I'd love to do Anglo-Saxon and Viking living history if my wife would allow me the time!
   - Jason Turner - Monday, 03/29/04 18:58:24 EST

thomasP- i wasn't planning on cutting the springs cold. i'm going to heat it to lose some of the temper then use the chisel to cut the sping into links. i'm making a chainmaille shirt, for look not funtion. although, the rings might be hard enough to stop some weapons, but i don't want to test it.
   mithrilmailler - Monday, 03/29/04 19:35:51 EST

Has anyone heard of a side-blast coke fired forge? Are there any reasons why this wouldn't work? I've never heard of it ebing done but it seems feasible to me. I'm just wondering whether I would have to change my forge set-up between coal and coke if I tried both.
   Stephan P - Monday, 03/29/04 20:01:35 EST

Phoenix Hammers: Patrick, Etal, More information is coming.
   - guru - Monday, 03/29/04 20:18:57 EST

This isn't a blacksmith question, but I've seen a decient amount of welding talk here, so hopefully you guys can help me out. I reciently got a small 110 AC arc welder for dirt cheap from overseas. Yes I know that dirt cheap overseas welders probably isn't the best choice, but with my budget it was that or nothing... anyhoo, it came without a plug, just 3 wires sticking out. I purchased the sturdiest grounded plug they had and now I'm ready to hook it up. The ground wire was marked, so I know where to attach that one, but the other two wires are blue and tan, and one prong is brass and the other a silver metal... Does it matter which wire goes to which prong, and if so which one goes where?
   AwP - Monday, 03/29/04 20:31:01 EST

mithrilmailler: I've done some chainmail and I just used sturdy wire cutters or small bolt cutters to cut through coils, then just file the rough edges.

Stephan P: Both coke and sideblower forges are both more popular in England then in America, since they use both over there I assume it's usually together, so I don't see why you'd have any problems... one note with coke, I hear you need to run alot more air through it to keep it burning.
   AwP - Monday, 03/29/04 20:35:13 EST

At the risk of beating a dead horse, the other neat thing about high chromium stainless is that when you do weld it or forge it, you can put the chromium carbides back into solution and return it to complete passivity. Heat the part to almost welding heat (high yellow) and water quench it. No tempering is required. If you actually know that you are working with low-carbon (L grades) stainless, don't even bother with the heating and quenching. There is not enough carbon in it to form any significant amount of chromium carbides.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 03/29/04 21:11:03 EST

If the young man whose parents bought him his first forge, anvil and post vise at "Forging on the River" in Memphis last weekend is reading this forum, contact me by email. Just click on my name and it will bring up your mail system with my email address already inserted.
   quenchcrack - Monday, 03/29/04 21:14:19 EST


I find that the best method for cutting small coils to make links for chain maille is to slip the coil over a brass rod, to make it somewhat rigid. Then use a jeweler's saw to slice off a few links at a time until the entire coil is cut. This removes the minimum amount of each link, and leaves the ends squarely cut and ready to twist open and then closed again to assemble the maille. Compression cut ends, as from cutters or chisel, result in links that are "barbed" and make a really scratchy shirt.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/29/04 21:17:23 EST

Books and Blades:

Actually, if we started up on bladesmithing in the discussion and demonstration areas, it would tend to take over. So, we recommend books! See the Bookshelf page for the Wayne Godddard books. Also, just a comment on The Complete Bladesmith- Dr. Hrisoulis is a consumate artist in blades, but he has a terrible time as a draftsman. Several of his drawings are missing important lines or are out of proportion or lack perspective (or all three). You may have to study them carefully to see the full picture.


Yep, XX Legion at Jamestown or Ft. Washington. I would have been in the Anglo-Saxon Camp or the Viking Camp. Matt Amt is an old friend of mine from his Markland days.

Back down to the 30s on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your national Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/29/04 23:49:59 EST

Stephan P:a side-blast coke fired forge sounds english, some of the older smithing books i've read say that the bottom tywer(sp?) was favored in america and the (water cooled) side draft in england.
   john tobako - Tuesday, 03/30/04 00:27:29 EST

Stephen P
Coke & sideblast: - I’ve only really worked with side blast and coke (occasionally coal). The trick is to remember that coke needs a constant flow of air (not the same as a constant air blast). I often ended up working with the blast adjusted low but constant while working, then turned LOW when not working at the forge. Lunchtimes a 3 x 3 x 6 inch block of wood comes in handy, push (dig) it into the heart of the fire and leave the blast for a minute, when you get back turn the blast on high and wait. Be aware of the usual warnings about untended fires!

There was a discussion about the origin of bottom blast forges on this site some months ago, I had never come across them until a found this site, and the only one I have seen, I built! They are that rare in the UK.

Paw Paw: - no tales from the bronze smithing days of your youth. (Strop all you want, I wont worry {much} until you start swimming) :)
   Nigel - Tuesday, 03/30/04 08:26:54 EST

Making mail rings:

I would worry about useing those trampoline springs for two reasons: One, they're most likely galvanized, so when you heat 'em up the zinc will burn off, producing a cloud of toxic fumes that will make you seriously ill. Zinc fumes are cumulative in that you may be fine breathing it for a while, but then just one sniff and suddenly you've got metal fume fever. The other concern is that even if you do heat them to red to rempve the temper, spring steel is still a LOT tougher than mild steel. This means you'll get a lot of blisters and give up after a couple of springs. Having made some mail myself, I promise you'll be MUCH happier with saw or dremel cut links rather than wire-cutter links. The little burrs left by wire cutters will shred your undergarment and your skin below that.


PPW has access to airplanes, remember...
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/30/04 09:41:41 EST

Nigel, I don't like to swim (although I can) but I do like to fly. An airplane makes a great one way elevator! (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/30/04 10:49:55 EST

Hi, I am tying to find metal & coke suppliers in central France [Limousin region] also the site of the French artist blacksmiths in France. any help would be great

phill Wiles [uk]
   Phill - Tuesday, 03/30/04 12:17:28 EST

Welder Wiring: AWP, Normally it DOES mater but depends on the appliance. Chinese devices rarely meet our standards unless specificaly manufactured under spec for a reputable reseller with a UL label. Note that UL labels are commonly forged or belong to someone other than the manufacturer OR to a different device.

I can only guess but normaly white (or the tan) is the neutral or white/bright plated lug. The black or colored wire (other than green) is the hot leg which goes to the copper or brass plated lug. Green is always ground.

Where things get tricky is that many people do not understand the difference between neutral and ground. At the electrical service entrance (main control) they are bonded together where the gound wire goes to the grounding rod. Grounds are never hot EXCEPT when there is a short. Neutrals are hot any time an AC device is operating.

For safety some items like light bulbs have the neutral attached to the easily touched case or screw thread. In a properly wired house you can usualy unscrew a bulb touching the bare metal threads without getting shocked. But if there is a second working bulb in the circuit there is a possibility the neutral will be hot.

Switches in all circuits that switch just one leg should switch the hot leg and not the neutral. Since the neutral is attached to ground at the service panel the neutral is safer (even when hot from a load) than the hot leg. Hot legs also have the fuse or circuit breaker in them for the same reason.

If in doubt, check to see that the blue wire is the switched leg if both are not switched. Then check to be sure there is no continuity between the ground and neutral in the device. Note that modern digital meters are often too sensitive for this test and will show some continuity from induction. While checking, be sure the ground in the cable is actually attached to the case in the device.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/30/04 13:37:05 EST

Stephan P, still hunting for the address for McKinnon;s (they're a firewood/coal supplier) but I did run across a couple more suppliers from a web search.
Earl Smith
Sherwood Park Ab.
403 467 8256

H M Stevens
Edmonton Ab
403 389 2137

Hope this is some help. I know McKinnons address is here on the web somewhere. Just have to find the list I plucked it from
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/30/04 13:42:05 EST

Side and Bottom Blast: Normally bottom blast forges are American and side blast English, European and others.
The water cooled side draft tuyeer is mostly found in England. Water cooling is necessary where the tuyeer is a pipe exposed to the fire on all sides.

Some American books show side blast forge setups but they were never popular here. They are the exception rather than the rule. However, early brick forges without iron firepot were side blast and the Asian trough forges are also side blast.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/30/04 13:43:15 EST

Guru, you're right on the money (as usual) with the electrical lesson, but here's a point to bear in mind. Many older electricians switched the neutral line instead of the hot, and in a situation like that, you definitely would NOT want to touch the threaded section of the light socket. I remember doing a lot of renovations on older houses in my younger days and these little "surprises" kept turning up in the rudest way. It quickly impresses on a young apprentice the need to TURN THE JUICE OFF before working on a circuit. (I still swear the old guy I worked for used to do this to me on purpose.)
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/30/04 13:51:59 EST

Electrical Errors: Ed, Right you are. As I pointed out, many folks (including electricians) confuse the two. I think modern wiring is probably better than old, especialy where there was no grounded circuits.

I've seen 220V put on 110 circuits (by electricians) and outlets wired in series. . . turn on the light, the radio comes on, as the bulb brightens the radio gets quieter. . .

The only electrics I trust are my own.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/30/04 14:00:11 EST

Thanks, Patrick and Vic about the stainless. And QC, you're not beating a dead horse at all. In fact, I was getting ready to ask about passivating the surface to get it back to stainless again when I came to your post. But - this is still addressed to everyone here who's interested - to be sure I understand:

Passivating is not needed for low-carbon stainless (like 300-series, since I have some of that to try? Or does this only apply to the 316L, et al?), because there's not enough carbon to form the Cr carbides. But is it still subject to contamination from all the other tools? If so, can I remove the contamination by a once-over with a clean grinding wheel, coarse or fine paper, or buff? Or is there a chemical way to do it? Or...?

For the not-low-carbon, which I guess means 400 series for sure and possibly the non-L 300 series, if I heat and quench and don't temper, do I not wind up with a hard, brittle part? Guess I wouldn't since you said it was okay. Does stainless just not respond to this process the way the "normal" alloys do? (My heat treat experiments so far have been with 10xx, 6150, and O-1). I thought I had read - but I'm old enough for my recollections to be suspect ;) - that at least some of the tool-making stainlesses were air-quenching... so maybe this advice was meant to be restricted to... 300 series, non-L?

Thanks again,

   Steve A - Tuesday, 03/30/04 14:31:11 EST

Welder/Electrical: Thanks for the answers and advice, it'll help alot.

Chainmail rings: You can saw them, but the problem with that in general is that it removes metal, so the rings will either have a gap, or they end up a deformed oval if you close the gap. Not always a problem, gaps don't matter if it hangs up for decoration, and slightly deformed rings are perfectly functional for SCA type things. But if you want perfect circles you have to cut in a way that removes little to no metal. Yes using cutters leaves sharp burrs, filing them away was always the most tedius part of making mail to me. One person mentioned a jewelers saw as opposed to a hacksaw or something similer... I'm not familier with those, but if the blade is thin enough it might remove a small enough amount of metal to not even matter.
   AwP - Tuesday, 03/30/04 16:32:55 EST

p.s. I'd concider leaving the spring temper in, no need for heat both for safety (zinc) and strength. Yes it'll be harder to cut and work, but the finished product will be much stronger.
   AwP - Tuesday, 03/30/04 16:35:18 EST

Cutting Chain Mail.
I've seen cutting jugs set up on a drill press with a high speed jewelers saw. The jig had a hole drilled to the outside diameter un cut coil and was bolted in place so the press could be turned on and the coil could be fed through the hole in the block. As you got to the end of a coil, you would use the next one to push the first coil all the way through. Coils waiting to be cut sat in a bucket of motor oil. It was kinda slick and made very tidy rings.
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 03/30/04 16:59:35 EST

ER, jigs, not jugs. What have I got on my mind?
   Mike Trahey - Tuesday, 03/30/04 17:00:24 EST

I have heard that the holes in gun barrels were made by hammering the outside of the barrel. Is this true and where can I find out more about this process?
   Gregory Stanley - Tuesday, 03/30/04 17:07:01 EST

Gregory Stanley: Yes, that's true for most American- and English-made barrels prior to the mid-to-late 1800s depending on where you're talking about. Some French and other European Smoothbore (i.e. thin-walled unrifled) barrels were made by forging several small rings and welding them together on a mandrel in a telescoping sort of way, and then there's always the "damascus" barrels in which a thin ribbon of iron and/or steel was wrapped spiral-fashion around a rod and jump-welded. This was NOT done with horseshoe nails, contrary to popular opinion.

There are several books on the subject, including in no particular order Foxfire 5, Notes from a Small Iowa Rifleshop by Steven Bookout, Quest for the Indian Trade Gun by Hamilton, and a few others. There is a video of the process called "Gunsmith of Williamsburg." Go to www.trackofthewolf.com and look at their book section to find these and many others. Also, I think our own Paw Paw Wilson describes the process in "The Revolutionary Blacksmith" on our Stories page, accessible from the drop-down menu at the upper right of this page.

The basic procedure you're talking about for a muzzleloading rifle barrel is to start with a flat strip of wrought iron about 3" wide, 3/8" thick, and a bit shorter than you want the finished barrel to be. At a high heat, start in the middle and bend the whole thing into a long U shape across the short way, like a piece of channel iron or a gutter. Then, starting in the middle, bend the edges until they meet and start gently forge-welding a few inches at a time. This is often done with a tapered mandrel rod a bit smaller than the desired bore diameter held loosely in place to prevent the hole from closing during the welding sequence. This mandrel pin is removed and cooled after each welding episode. It's a pain to keep the barrel and seam straight, and you must make sure the weld runs from corner to corner of the butted joint along the length. That is, when you bend the tube together, the inside surface will touch before the outside, and you must weld that inside edge before closing the seam. This is faster to do than to type, as it's accomplished in one welding sequence, a few inches at a time.

After the welding is done, the octagon flats are lightly forged in, taking care not to crush the barrel. Then comes the tedious part: Reaming out the hole. The bore will be very rough and uneven, and full of scale and flux. It is slowly reamed out with a series of long bits, then polished when the desired size is reached. Then the rifling grooves are cut. After all that, the outside has to be finished.

This is rather like bladesmithing in that it's not a job for a beginner. You must have a very sound foundation in both basic and advanced forge work.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/30/04 17:45:06 EST

Should an eye drift have the corners rounded or square?
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/30/04 17:59:59 EST

Just a question for Alan L: approximately how long would it have taken an old time smith to make, say, one of the trade guns the fur traders swapped for pelts. They always make it sound like the practice of piling pelts to the height of the gun barrel was a way of cheating the Indians, but from what you just described, making that gun was a long and laborious proccess, and they were probably worth every pelt.
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/30/04 18:07:29 EST

300 series stainless is 18% chrome and 8% nickel. This 300 series is used mostly for its high resistance to oxidation, or stainless quality. Other than work hardening, 300 does not get hard, period. The 300L is the low carbon version and welds with better results for retaining its chemical resistance, without post weld heat treat.
The 400 series stainless's are basicly 13 chrome, and 2-5% nickel and are used for thier high strenght at elevated temp's as well as improved chemical resistance over the carbon steels, especially at elevated temp. Some of the 400 series can be heat treated for very high hardness, and retain the resistance to staining, and therefore are used for surgical instruments and knife blades. Typical is 440C.
For the best info on stainless alloys and their application, fabrication and forgeing info, request the stainless tech book from Carpenter technologies. This book is quite easy to use, and will be helpful to all who can read. The info is there for the blacksmith who needs forging temp and the heat treatment that a true metalurigist needs for a factory production job.
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/30/04 18:10:27 EST

Gregory Stanley,
See Alan-L's very good response for gun barrels made by hand. It is also very current to forge barrels on morden guns by rotory forging, and to have the id mandrel to have form die surfaces to form the rifleing in the same operation. This process uses a very expensive custom built forging machine, and special heavy wall tube, and is now more often used over gundrills.
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/30/04 18:16:24 EST

thanks for the help with cutting my springs
   mithrilmailler - Tuesday, 03/30/04 18:35:06 EST

Spring Steel for Maile: mithrilmailler, you will have trouble straightening (flat) or closing the ring in a spring temper piece. This takes a lot of force in soft iron and is in fact almost impossible in spring steel due to the fact that you will need to over travel the bend to allow for spring back.

A good way to anneal steels for this kind of work is to build a bonfire, when you get a good bed of coals bury the springs in the coals then let the fire go out and cool overnight. The ash will insulate and produce a very nice slow cooling as the coals slowly burn out. The produces one of the best anneals possible. You can do the same in a wood stove.

Afterwards the steel will be easier to cut and to bend. Spring steel will still be stiffer than soft iron but not much different fully annealed.

If you are going to cut the rings with a chisel be sure to use a soft backup or cutting plate made of annealed steel or aluminium.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/30/04 19:01:44 EST

coke comments....i have been using the "L brand forge coke" for a few weekends. crank blower and centaur vulcan fire pot. once i learned how to "light it", i have been very happy with it. i started with a blazing wood fire made up of wood chunks, added about 3" of coke on top, and keep cranking until it gets going. pile more on once you have a good "heart". if you are constantly forging, it does not go out. i have left it for 5-ten minutes and was able to crank it back up. it really seems to be more efficient than coal, significantly so. i shipped a ton of it, shipping included. for just over $500 (AL to NV). it does get hot, burned up a few pieces while getting used to it. once it gets going, there is no smoke for the life of the fire.
   rugg - Tuesday, 03/30/04 19:21:10 EST

Passivating Stainless:

SteveA, I did a long-winded explanation of a couple of different processes for passivating stainless steel several months ago. A search of the archives might turn it up. The bottom line is, yes. You need to passivate if you want it to be stainless again after forging.

One easy way is to pickle it in a 20% solution of citric acid in water, heated to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Thirty minutes to an hour should do it. This is what commercial passivators are mostly using these days, since it is safer and less environmentally damaging than the old nitric acid/permanganate solutions.

I do mine by electropolishing in a solution of Ospho (a phosphoric acid product) and sulfuric acid. About 25% Ospho, 10% sulfuric acid, and the balance water. I use 12 volts, a stainless steel cathode cage and the work is the anode. When you hook it up, the bubbles should be coming OFF the workpiece. If the bubbles are coming off the cathode cage, then reverse your connections. Usually takes about twenty or thirty minutes to remove all scale and brighten the surface, after which 304 stainless will not rust, even in our Virgin Islands humid salt air.

If you remove all the scale and contaminants by sanding/filing, you will usually have removed anything that will rust under any but the most severe conditions. A quick dip in citric acid solution as above will ensure no rust.

If I get my main computer up and running again soon, I'll dig out the passivating article and send it to Jock for a FAQ.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/30/04 19:36:15 EST

ED Long, thanks for the supplier links. I was talking with Home hardware and they don't have any information on where to get coal. They looked through their catalogues and upon not finding a coal source, they figure that it might be a localized deal through a private supplier.

GURU: Thanks for the forge info. I'm going to go ahead and build my side-blast.

RUGG: Do you have a link to the L brand coke. I couldn't find it in an internet search. It sounds like the price is right.

What about Reboy Supply, anyone use them. They seem to be a little higher but then it is being shipped by UPS, so that would probably account for most of the cost.
   Stephan P - Tuesday, 03/30/04 20:23:03 EST

Whew, Steve, you ask a bunch of good questions. Passivating the surface is different than solution annealing to dissolve carbides. However, heating to solution annealing temperatures will form a continuous oxide layer, too. Any XXX L stainless alloy is low carbon and does not require annealing. Surface contamination is always a problem and can be removed mechanically or chemically. The chemical method usually involves Hydrofluoric acid so lets not go there. No, quenching an austenitic stainless (300 series) will not harden it. Quenching ferritic stainless (some 400 series) or martensitic stainless (more 400's) will cause some martensite to form. The hardness of the martensite will be determined by the amount of carbon. At most SS carbon levels, this is not a problem. The martensitic grades will get harder than woodpecker lips if you quench them. Stainless steel is a very different animal compared to carbon and alloy steels and deserves a lot more discussion than can be presented here.
   quenchcrack - Tuesday, 03/30/04 20:40:36 EST

Ed Long:

A small gun shop (master and one or two apprentices) would be expected to turn out a finished gun in a couple of weeks if they forged every part by hand. In reality, very few makers did this. Almost all of the trade guns made from around 1690 to 1800 were factory-made in Europe (England or France, mostly), where each factory turned out a dozen or more finished guns per day.

Very few of the famed Pennsylvania rifle makers of the 1750-1830 period made their own barrels or locks. There were a few barrel factories in Lancaster (and one in Elizabethton, TN, ca. 1810-1840!), but with very few exceptions the locks were imported, as it was cheaper to do so than to make them domestically. The exceptions were generally in the backcountry, where overland haulage fees were equal to the labor in producing one. Jacob Dickert and J.P. Beck were the exceptions in Eastern PA. Cast brass gun furniture, i.e. buttplates, triggerguards, etc. was also routinely imported. Patchbox lids were generally made by the gunsmith from sheet brass (also cast, see Guru's post above re: bronze-age metalworking)

In short, yep, they were cheating the Indians. An American shop starting with a barrel, Lock, and wood plank could turn out a finished gun in as little as two days, nothing fancy. BUT as I said above, virtually all trade guns prior to 1800 or so were factory made in Europe. The English were still sending flintlock trade guns to the Northwest Territories of Canada as late as the 1880s.

Also: Drifts, even for square eyes, should have radiused corners to prevent tearing the metal.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/30/04 20:54:56 EST

Stephan P, the Schaner coal company is right next door to the Home Hardware heas wharehouse in St Jacobs Ontario. What you need to do is get hold of Schaner and get the information on how much you want, etc, then find a sympathetic HH person (the assistant manager does it for me). Have them call Schaner (I can get you the number if you want) and order the coal there. Schaner takes it next door and loads it on the HH trucks and it comes to you. You might mention that a lot of smiths are getting coal that way. For some reason or other HH seems to cater quite well to the Amish (Schaner) so it usually isn't a problem to get it ordered through them.
   Ed Long - Tuesday, 03/30/04 21:21:54 EST

Stainless - Quenchcrack, just to complicate matters a little, don't forget the PH grades of stainless (17-7, 15-7, etc.)Solution treat, air cool, then age at various temperatures to get desired properites. 900 & 1200 F come to mind for aging temperatures.
Also, Gregory were you thinking of black powder weapons? If not, the barrels of a lot of modern guns including black powder replicas are being made by machining bar stock. That includes the M-16 through at least 1980.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 03/30/04 22:29:41 EST

Import Welder wiring :
Blue is the required color for neutral under the CE standard used in all of Europe. US equipment for export has to be wired this way but we accept equipment with blue neutrals for import. So third country exporters just use blue to avoid the two wiring schemes we are stuck with.
- C
   Chris Smith - Tuesday, 03/30/04 23:08:27 EST

So I should actually put the blue wire onto the silver prong on the plug?
   AwP - Tuesday, 03/30/04 23:36:11 EST

guru- so i shouldn't use an anvil to cut the springs with? just so that i understand, what is a soft backup and/or cutting plate?
   mithrilmailler - Wednesday, 03/31/04 00:45:45 EST

Gregory, you might want to visit www.muzzleloadingforum.com for further input on the topic of trade rifles and muskets, but Alan has given you an excellent answer.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 03/31/04 01:39:02 EST

I took a fat piece of strap iron and bent it down in 2 places so that it makes a cap over part of the anvil face that wont bounce off. I use the top of that to protect the anvil face while I cut. Any piece of softer metal plate that you can use between the cutting and the anvil face will do. You are just trying to protect the face of the anvil from being hacked up by the chisel..( and the chisel from being blunted by the hard anvil face).
As the Good Guru says; a jeweler's saw is the way to go. They are inexpensive, versatile and cut a clean,tiny kerf.
And doesn't everybody really want a clean, tiny kerf of their own? ( quit kerfing guys).
   Pete F - Wednesday, 03/31/04 03:22:08 EST

I’ve got a bad kerf but it’s only the asthma playing up.

On a serious note, have a play with a box of spring washers before you cut your own links to make mail. I’ve made a 70,000 link shirt with custom links (8mm light weight), but it took several months of evenings, mainly to let the blisters heal. A year later it only took 100 standard spring washers to get more blisters.

Just my luck to forget Paw Paw is one of those ‘sane’ people who jump out of perfectly good ‘planes
   Nigel - Wednesday, 03/31/04 06:18:47 EST

I've got a comission for a forged iron exterior memorial bench and I wanted to use some 1/4" brass I already have for the dedication plate. I'd planned on riveting it to a painted forged frame with brass rivets .Am I going to have reactive corrosion problem? If so ,whats the best way to isolate the brass?
   lydia - Wednesday, 03/31/04 10:54:05 EST

Lydia, you didn't say what the other material is (iron?). Don't do it. Yes you are going to have a huge bi-metal corosion problem. Either make it of all one metal or the other not both. If you want gold/brass highlights on an exterior piece then use gold paint or gold leaf (OVER PAINT or preferably galvanizing).

I assume as a "memmorial" piece it is going to go in a park or cemetery. This will be out in the weather for hundreds of years with very little or poor maintenance. Bi-metalic corrosion on pieces like this ruin them to the point of removal to scrap. In Europe they are big on metal grave markers and sculptural pieces. These are made of galvanized steel, stainless steel, solid brass. In some places all public ironwork must be galvanized.

In this modern era of acidic rain and air pollution pieces that would last centuries in the past will be badly deterioratied in a generation. When making multi-generation pieces NEVER use multi-metal construction unless you want to be cursed for generations.

Today for multi-generational long life I would use stainless, sandblast it, then paint it. A nice brass green patina color with hand rubbed antiquing for the top coats. If bright highlights are needed then gold leaf is the way to go. The reason for islating the gold leaf OVER the piant is that it is one of the worst metals to use with iron/steel as far as bi-metalic corosion goes.

I've said this over and over, If Hollywood can make wood and plaster look like metal of all kinds, why can't metalworkers make metal look like metal? Clean it, protect it, then make it look like whatever you want it to look like.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/31/04 13:02:34 EST

Sorry if I was a bit snappy. Rough morning . . .

Building websites and getting listed on search engines:

I just spent a tortourous hour reviewing a dozen web-sites for inclusion in one of the major search engine databases (I am the blacksmithing editor).

Why was it tortourous? Rude, unfriendly pages that expect the latest greatest Microsoft browser, the newest Flash plugins, oversize pages, and the WORST - a high speed connection. Many of the pages I looked at had built in pop-ups, loaded oversize java applets and crashed my browser repeatedly. A couple were commercial sites (business pages) hosted on free servers like geocites with THEIR popups.

The two biggest problems were:

1) Amature developers that do not understand the technology and try to do things beyond their cabability.

2) Profesional developers that do things that are NOT in the best interest of their client.

I feel sorry for the folks that get sucked in by the second sort and spend a lot of money and get a crappy site. I just deleted a site that displayed from a pop-up window leaving a background window advertising the developer and supposed "awards" they had won. The subject of the site was supposed to be high end ironwork, NOT a shyster web developer.

I also dumped a site that has a Flash intro that hadn't finished loading 10 minutes after I went to the page and there was no bypass. There is not enough time in ANYONE'S day to wait for this kind of thing. Somone may have spent tens of thousands of dollars on that splash page but it has lost them a search engine listing. This was the fault of whoever built the site as well as whoever approved it.

I dumped another commercial smithy site hosted on geocites. When you can get hosting for $10 to $25/month and limited hosting for $15/year without popups there is NO EXCUSE for a business to be hosted on geocities with pop-ups and java menu applets.

Sites that DEMAND 1048 wide screens are not designed for public viewing. All sites need to consider at LEAST IE and Nescape (4.x). It is difficult and expensive to support other browsers such as Opera and web-TV but a few places do. I cannot afford to test under those but ANYONE building a website can test and make sites work under the two major browsers, IE and Netscape.

If you let the art and the technology get in the way of your message then you are wasting your time. Worse, you are wasting my time and the public's time. Drop dead gorgeous web sites with high levels of technology can be built that work on 3.x and 4.x browsers. You can even include FLASH elements if they are sized correctly. IF you insist on the latest and greatest on a public page then you are thumbing your nose at a large proportion of your target audiance. You have completly lost site of the message and are engaged in "techno-snobbery".

I have given up on codling web-developers and site builders that have lost sight of their message. For several years I have been writing polite letters letting folks know what was wrong with their sites. I never recieved one response OR saw changes on their sites.

Test your site ON-LINE (not from your local copy) and from a clear cache, test under multiple browsers and REMEMBER the message. If your site takes minutes to load, crashes browsers, fails to display or the message is not clear, then think again before submiting to a search engine or link list.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/31/04 13:38:27 EST

guru- thanks for the tip on annealling the springs, i'm going to try the bonfire tonight. the only conscern that i have is that its very windy where i am and i'm not sure if i want to leave the fire alone. so should i build up a wall of concrete blocks or something?
pete f- thanks for your advice. i'll do that with my anvil. how thick of a peice should i get to form the cap out of? the jewelers saw might end up being more work for me cause after i cut the links, i'll have to deburr it and i don't have a tumbler and i also don't want to sit there and take the burrs off by hand
nigel- i've been making maille for about 2 years now working with 14 gauge steel. i know the springs i'm going to be working with will be tough but i'll be ok. i'm going to move into stainless rings pretty soon so this will be good practice.
   mithrilmailler - Wednesday, 03/31/04 14:40:05 EST

Lots of good stuff on stainless, thanks. I'll check the archives. And interesting about the 17-x stainless, because I just saw a part last week that when I asked was told it was 17-4, and I'd never heard of that before. Good stuff.

Maybe next time I ask questions about this I'll have worked with it some. Right now, I'll be off to Tannehill for the blade weekend.

   Steve A - Wednesday, 03/31/04 15:21:49 EST

Coal from Home Hardware - Stephan P/Ed Long:
I've also gotten coal for smithing through Home Hardware. I had to go through the store in Frankford, Ont. (the guys in the Trenton HH didn't know what I was asking about.) The people in the Frankford store have gotten steady business from some of the local hobby smiths because of this.

The cost last year worked out to $CDN 28/bag incl shipping. Cheaper (for me) then the the cost of driving to St Jacobs and back.
   Don Shears - Wednesday, 03/31/04 15:41:32 EST

Jeweler's saws do not leave burrs.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 03/31/04 16:15:33 EST

Mithrilmailler: Years ago when I was in the SCA, I made a ring cutting tool out of a pair of Wiss aircraft shears, following instructions in a armorer's guild journal. It involved cutting off most of the blades with a cutoff blade (Quench frequently) and cutting wire diameter hooks in the remaining blade. It worked well even when cutting piano wire rings, giving the advantage of the compound leverage from the shear's design. Worked even better on fence wire rings. Discovered that I am not NEARLY patient enough to make mail. . .

BTW: Are you using springs just to get coils? A piece of rod, a piece of wood with a matching hole with a screw protruding to act as a guide and a variable speed drill make a pretty good coil winder. Fence wire from the farm supply store will be a lot easier to work than springs.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 03/31/04 16:37:51 EST

Hello, I am just getting started in blacksmithing and i was wondering if you know any websights were they show how ot make homade forges. Any help you can offer would be appreciated.
   john mahoney - Wednesday, 03/31/04 18:45:09 EST

Thanks Jock, I'll save the brass for an interior job.
   - lydia - Wednesday, 03/31/04 18:47:09 EST

stephan P, there is a link from the "coal scuttle" under alabama for the forge coke...
   rugg - Wednesday, 03/31/04 19:00:48 EST

Mailer: the worst burs you can get will be with using a cold chisel.

(Made my shirt with 1/4" ID rings, finished it in 1981 IIRC)

Beware zinc fumes while annealing!
   - ThomasP - Wednesday, 03/31/04 19:48:17 EST

John Mahoney,

Using the drop-down menu at the upper right of your screen, go to the "21st Century" link. Once you get there, use the FAQ's drop-down to go to "Getting Started." Near the bottom of that page, which you should read ALL of, is a link to "Brake Drum Forge Plans." That will show you how to make a simple coal, or charcoal, forge.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/31/04 20:13:17 EST

Don, did you get the coal from Home Hardware at a good deal? I never thought that HH would sell coal for smithing.
   - Billy - Wednesday, 03/31/04 21:17:37 EST

Gavainh, Yep, forgot about the precipitation hardening grades. I don't even want to start in on dual phase stainlesses.....
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/31/04 21:52:51 EST

The bag price from Schaners on coal right now is $15 CDN. THere's 15 bags to a pallet. Point of interest:last year this coal was used at CanIron 4 and the British smiths were blown away with how easily it welded and forged.
Billy, the HH deal is kind of a special order bit that they will do, but you have to get them all the info first.
   Ed Long - Wednesday, 03/31/04 22:06:05 EST

Mail Rings:
I found a great source for ring coils. I was in a hardware store and found a 50' wire pipe auger. The wire is about 14ga and very tough and springy. Made about ±7000 rings per. They had a light coat of oil and were not galvanized. If I remember correctly they were covered with mill scale and shine up real nice after a couple days wear. I modified pair of bolt cutters because they where so tough and cut about 1/2 way trough, then twisted to break off the ring so no burs or sharp edges. Also made 2 sets of closing tongs to bend them a little beyond closed so they would spring back closed. One left hand the other right. I saw them at Hom Dep recently. Maybe its time for a another hauberk.
   Shack - Wednesday, 03/31/04 22:35:41 EST

Mail Rings:

If you just want to play around makeing mail, how about using key rings? There has to be a place were you can buy them cheaper by the ton.

   - Hudson - Thursday, 04/01/04 00:19:00 EST

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