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

This is an archive of posts from March 1 - 7, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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1" Stock; Matthew:

It may be arbitrary, but less than 1" stock I put in the classification of "light" blacksmithing, and anything 1" and over I regard as "heavy" blacksmithing. When you start working on the larger stock, you start needing strikers or mechanical hammers. An anvil your size is much more suitable for 1/2" stock or even smaller. The 1" stock is forged on a 220# (100 kilo) anvil with a 3 1/2 pound hammer (1.5 kilo); and like Ptree, my arm tends to wear out after a bit and I have to switch to lighter projects. You might want to ease back to smaller projects until you uprate your equipment(although that never stopped my ambitions).

Andre's question has me curious- does anybody know what they use on the ironwork at the Washington Cathedral; besides elbow grease?

A diddly amount of snow tapering off on the banks of the lower Potomac. I should be okay tomorrow, if it doesn't freeze tight on the roads.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 02/28/05 23:57:22 EST


I have three Buffalo blowers that all look alike from a distance, but were probably made at different times, because of slight design variations. One of them says Buffalo Silent 200. Many of the hand cranked blowers were patented around the turn of the 20th Century, so I would venture a guess that most of them were made during the first third of the 20th Century.


I've forged 1" stock on a 250# anvil with a 4# hammer...IN MY YOUTH. Not any more. As Woodridge pointed out, a near white or welding heat helps. For example, in "The Blacksmiths' Craft", the authors suggest when making a flat jawed tong, to forge each of the three necessary shoulders at a light welding heat, EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE NOT WELDING. I yell. I rant & rave.

Dawn Piazza,

An e-acquaintance, Mr. Chippinghammer, tells me that a terrific jewelry website is www.ganoskin.com. It is worldwide in scope, and has all manner of helpful areas to navigate. That might jump-start you in the right direction.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/01/05 00:42:00 EST

Dawn, Las Vegas NM is a pretty small town but not too far from Taos and Santa Fe where there are quite a few folks teaching jewelry making.

If you meant the *other* Las Vegas; have you checked out any community colleges for arts classes that are oriented for jewelry making? Sometimes even full universities will have out of hours crafts classes.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/01/05 00:58:05 EST

Washington Cathedral.
I was told by the folks there that Peanut oil was applyed an rubbed in. But who knows?
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/01/05 02:26:09 EST

Dawn-- the estimable Mr. Turley is correct in saying I think Ganoksin (sic)or Orchid as it is also known is the cat's meow. Lotsa good stuff there, fabulous archive cross-refed every which way, helpful experienced pros all over the world respond in a flash to try to answer your queries. BUT: you will have to learn many of the skills needed in blacksmithing, too, and acquire some of the same tools. If no jewelry class near you, get started with a starter course in welding, soldering, brazing at your local vo-tech or community college. Perhaps a local jewelry-maker would give lessons in the basics in exchange for some labor.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Tuesday, 03/01/05 02:36:40 EST

Matthew: Consider scrapyards for the cut off ends of large round stock, say 6-8" by at least 3" thick. Also try steel suppliers who service machine shops as they may have drops (cut off ends). Placed on a solid surface they would make you a dandy little temporary anvil. The scrapyard I use had a 8" billet of SS about 6" high. Cost would have been $1.00 pound. It would have been far, far superior to the ASOs being sold today for $2.00 or more per pound - not including delivery. At this yard scrap iron is $.25 pound.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/01/05 04:15:14 EST

I am having problems with my right hand unfortunately creating difficuly with smithing. I have been looking at power hammers and kick hammers as an alternative. Can you send me in the direction where I may obtain plans for a kick hammer? Also I plan on using it for bladesmithing and armour. CAn you also tell me what weight would be a good general purpose weight for the hammer? I currently live in Kansas city MO
   jon - Tuesday, 03/01/05 07:01:02 EST

Can I us oil to Blue my metalwork? Can it be motor oil? I see linseed oil formulas mentioned a lot for this?
   vic bitter - Tuesday, 03/01/05 07:43:45 EST


Check out the Book Reviews page here at Anvilfire for a review of "Metal Techniques for Craftsmen" by Oppi Untracht. An excellent book on metalsmithing. Other books are those by Robert Von Neumann and/or Sharr Choate. Neither UNLV nor SNCC seems to have courses for jewelry design, so you may have to try hitting a few craft shows to find a local silversmith or goldsmith who will give you some hands-on training to supplement the book work.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/01/05 08:36:30 EST


ABANA has plans for sale for both treadle hammers and powerhammers. As for weight, the designers of the hammers have worked out the weights they think are suitable; I would follow their recommendations until I had sufficient experience to adjust them.

Treadle hammers are pretty simple in concept. If you check out pictures of them on the web and in books, you could probably build onme without a set of plans, if you have welding and fabricating skills.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/01/05 08:39:52 EST

Vic bitter,

Blueing steel is usually done chemically; check Birchwood Casey products at your hunting/gun supply store. It's done on grease free, bare metal. As for oils and waxes, scroll up a ways to see my responses for André.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/01/05 10:13:03 EST

Rugg: Sounds like you have a fairly early standard Trenton. Yes, they had handling holes in under horn and heel. Even the early Fishers had handling holes and they were cast iron. Look at the front foot. There should be a serial number there. If you will let us know what it is it can be matched to year of manufacturer. While Trenton was known for the oval depression in the base, the very early ones had an hourglass shape, much like H-B. It is possible for it to be flat. There is currently a listing for an early H-B farrier anvil on eBay (made for E. D. Kimball) with a flat bottom. Anvil makers were very, very good at working in seams. Take some of the early English anvils. Some were up to 12 separate pieces forge welded together and to the eye appear to be one solid block. Read the chapter on Trentons in Anvils in America by Richard Postman. The forum's store sells it and is well worth the cost. Richard has started finalizing work on the follow-up, More on Anvils. It will supplement, not replace, AIA. On the bottom depressions, Postman said it served two purposes. One was to reduce mass (weight) without affecting structure and the other is that it helped the anvil to sit more level. I suspect a third aspect was use to distinguish their anvils from others.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/01/05 10:13:22 EST

Ken, I wasn't trying to say Bronze wasn't good enough- that was just a poor attempt at humor. I've had small lot castings done of iron, brass, and aluminum. The non ferrous guys usually are more accomodating about using your own patterns it seems. I was just saying don't make the pattern till you talk to the foundry or you might have to revise it or even toss it. I hope you didn't think I was criticising your tools or your methods.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 03/01/05 11:04:16 EST

I got my first real anvil yesterday I took a day off so I could be there when it arrived. I got to say after working for years on an ASO What a difference.I tried it out with some WI I have it was like butta.It doesnt have any holes or indents on the base how can I fasten it to my stump?I don't think I want to drill it.
   Chris Makin - Tuesday, 03/01/05 12:26:43 EST

SGensh: No, I didn't take it as a criticism. Its just that I find too many people being locked into only one solution rather than doing the define the problem and then identify potential solutions method. Linus Pauling was quoted as saying something to the effect, "The way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas and to throw out the bad ones." In this case bronze is only one possible solution. When coupled with the difficulty of finding a ductile iron foundry willing to do small jobs at a reasonable price, it does become more attractive. That is one reason I didn't want the swage bottoms on the side. They would require a better grade metal, which, for a hobby smith, really add no particular value. By redefining the purpose of the block it offers more possible solutions.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/01/05 14:10:18 EST

Chris Makin, I would simply take some wrought iron bands about 1/2" by 1/16" and simply wrap them around the anvil base and bolt the free ends to the stump. The overall top view might be like _|_____|_ before you bend the tails down
   Matthew Marting - Tuesday, 03/01/05 14:25:04 EST

Whoah.. That diagram didnt work out too well.

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   Matthew Marting - Tuesday, 03/01/05 14:27:39 EST

Dang... I hope you get the idea becayse I'm useless with computers.
   Matthew Marting - Tuesday, 03/01/05 14:28:46 EST

Jock is down with the flu, he hopes to be semi back on his feet by tomorrow. Gurus keep an eye on things, please. I'm very tied up with getting the new shop going, but will try to come by as often as possible.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/01/05 14:37:25 EST

Chris - There are many ways to tie the varmint down, but probably the easiest is to bolt/lag screw a piece of strap or angle across the feet at each end. If you put something with a bit of give to it under the anvil (like a piece of inner tube or asphalt shingle) and cinch the bolts down tight you'll have it a lot quieter than if it is just sitting on the stump.
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 03/01/05 14:46:48 EST

ken, what i really want to know, if it is possible, is if the base is wrought. it looks like a PW. there is a handling hole in the front foot also. i think there is a handling hole in the bottom as well. the anvil is in outstanding condition. pre buel patent or cast steel base trentons that were made in the US should be quite uncommon, maybe rare.....thanks
   - rugg - Tuesday, 03/01/05 16:08:55 EST

According to Postman bases can be almost any metal which will weld easily to the wrought iron tops. The requirement was the weldability, not the metal itself. They would have been unlikely though to have been cast steel due to the higher cost. More likely cast mild steel. At least Trenton was arc welding on bases towards the end. What is the serial number? If it is early, likely it is wrought iron. Later likely something else.

On anvils, take a look at eBay #6159073339. 165-pound anvil, old English looking base, round hole where square hardy should be. Any thoughts on brand?
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/01/05 16:57:58 EST


I’m not sure if you will be able to help me but I thought I’d ask! I’m a university student in the UK and need to find the density of silver steel, preferably both heat-treated and not heat-treated for some calculations. I have only been able to find one value for each and would like to check to see if I can get similar values. My books have been no help (!) so any suggested books/websites would be very much appreciated if you don’t know the actual values.

Many thanks, Becky
   Becky - Tuesday, 03/01/05 18:10:52 EST

Rugg, I've had about 5 Trentons go through my hands, and I now have two. They are both the later models with the welded waist and no handling holes. I sold an older one to a nearby friend. It was fairly blocky with squared off base and feet. It has handling holes in the waist, and it is stamped on the side, "SOLID WROUGHT"; underneath that "TRENTON" enclosed within their typical lozenge trademark; underneath that, "101", the weight in pounds.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/01/05 19:06:39 EST


Yes. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/01/05 19:37:30 EST

Tire Roller
Howdy Peter
I have sold many tire rollers over the years. I only would purchase tire rollers in excellent working condition that only needed to be cleaned or a new adjuster spring added. They are as big a subject as anvils in desire to have one and various models. Just a darn handy tool for making rings. Almost every tire bender I have sold ranged from 500.00 to 750.00. I know it sounds like a great deal of money. They are so hard to find and in excellent working condition without cracks or missing parts. I do not have any other than my own at the moment. I hope this info helps. I would not hesitate to spend a few hundred dollars if you locate a good one.
   Brande Brookins - Tuesday, 03/01/05 19:55:27 EST

Greetings All,
I'm a jeweler in Miami, FL. I work in non-ferrous mokume, and recently I've become interested in putting out a line incorporating pattern welded or 'damascus' steel. Hope I've stumbled upon the right place- I am looking for a few pounds of unpatterned billets on somewhat short notice to put a presentation together for a show, and possibly for a longer-term dedicated supplier for the future. I've found a number of commercial suppliers of pre-patterned forged and powder-steel billets online, but I'm interested in a material I can do my own subtractive pattern work in and then forge out to around .05 to .10 inches for making jewelry/ wearable scale objects. If you have something suitable on hand and can ship this week, or can refer me to someone who makes this material and might be interested, I'd be much obliged if you would contact me at the email address above.
Thanks ahead of time-
Guido Reichstadter
   - Guido Reichstadter - Tuesday, 03/01/05 20:03:58 EST

Well I guess that email adress didn't go through, for the record it's guido [undescore] reichstadter [at] hotmail [dot] com
Thanks Again,
   - Guido Reichstadter - Tuesday, 03/01/05 20:05:20 EST

Becky, Whoa and Wow. I got out my "Metallurgy Fundamentals"* book, but it's tough sledding for me. Density is more properly called "specific weight". It is the ratio of weight to volume. My book doesn't give specifics for silver steel, which in the US is called drill rod. And there are three on the market: water hardening, oil hardening, and air hardening.

A table (lb./ft cubed) gives 490 for steel, 482 for gray iron, 550 for nickel, etc.

The Glossary defines "density": The mass of an object divided by its volume, expressed in terms of mass per unit volume.

That parts my hair.

*by Daniel A. Brandt and J.C. Warner, The Goodheart-Wilcox Co., 1999, ISBN 1-56637-543-6.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/01/05 20:30:07 EST

I need help with the Soap Quench for mild steel from Rob Gunter's. Ken S. has been very helpful. Is the shaklee basic i the right product to use? it appears to be a soap concentrate. This is where I am confused. Also if it is basic-i then is there a cheaper option as that runs 35.00 a bottle. Thanks to anyone who can help. Thanks again to Ken for all his help thus far.
   Brande Brookins - Tuesday, 03/01/05 20:31:55 EST

if the specificgravity of my anvil is directly proportionate to the earths gravity, subtracting volocity of a falling object,and considering the mass of my head...hhmmm ,when I fell face first into my anvil...and left that really UGLY impression....hey...somethings not right here....hey frank....wanna buy an anvil?
   HIGHLANDERFORGE - Tuesday, 03/01/05 21:18:29 EST


Basic I is the industrial strength solution of Shaklee. Use it straight, not diluted at all, in the Super Quench Formula.
   Paw Paw - Tuesday, 03/01/05 21:21:38 EST

Building my first propane forge and have the K-wool lining in place (2 layers). Befor I place the tile flooring in I think I want to smear on that ceramic coating in the pint jar that came with my wool. Directions say to mix with water and smear it on. Well, how much water? What ratio? Should the consistancy be like milk or pancake batter or spackling compound on sheetrock?
   Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 03/01/05 21:48:38 EST

....and, how long does it take to set/harden?
   Jerry Crawford - Tuesday, 03/01/05 21:49:09 EST

JON E-mail me at lecountATmindspring.com and I might help. I have just built and used a treadle hammer and love it. I am highly opinionated as a result and you need to keep that in mind.

KEN SCHARABOK Your tools may be "Poor Boy" to you, but the cast iron firepot I got from you a few years back was High Class stuff.
   J Myers - Tuesday, 03/01/05 22:10:32 EST

Jerry: I use just enough water for easy brushing onto the surface with a cheap 1" brush. Then I light the forge and it dries PDQ :). Of course I run it very low until the steam stops coming out and then a bit longer.
   adam - Tuesday, 03/01/05 22:47:07 EST

Thank You for the super quench info Paw Paw
   Brande Brookins - Tuesday, 03/01/05 23:09:48 EST

Becky- On a previous post someone said silver steel is the same as our W1 tool steel, analysis: Carbon--1.05% Manganese--0.20% Silicon--0.20% Density--.283Lb/Cu.In. or7833Kg/M3 Presumably this would be prior to heat treat. If this is not silver steel, If You post the analysis I can try to look it up.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/02/05 00:06:09 EST

Becky, Pardon me for breathing, but it seems to this ol' blacksmith that heat treatment would have a negligible effect on mass and weight. I'm beginning to wonder if we are not talking about hardness, as in Rockwell or Brinell, depth of penetration by a diamond point or a hardened steel "BB".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/02/05 01:44:27 EST

Frank Turkey: Please take a look at the anvil on eBay at # 6159073339. Has me stumped as to brand. Almost looks like a custom order older English anvil, but why would someone what a round hardy hole? Horn appears to have been reworked. Almost in too good of condition. I'm wondering if someone might not have used an old English anvil to make a mold and this is cast steel. Rather than trying to put in a core for the hardy they just poured it solid and drilled out both the hardy and pritchel. Ah, an anvil mystery.

J. Myers. The firepot you referred to is what is commonly called the SOFA or Zeller pot. They were designed by, and are still available through, the SOFA chapter of ABANA at the Quad-State conferences. Essentially they took an old design and doubled wall thicknesses. I have only seen one burned through and that was at the last Q-S. However, it had been dropped on concrete while being moved and was cracked. At one time I offered these via shipping. However, the cost of them today prohibit my doing so and making it worth my while. If someone is looking for a firepot you are unlikely to damage they need to attend Q-S., which is normally the last full weekend in Sept. at the fairgrounds in Troy, OH. --- Your few years back is likely 18 or more.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/02/05 02:25:27 EST


Weird looking anvil, with that skinny waist. Brand? Durned if I know.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/02/05 02:33:23 EST

I have saw anvil am wandering how to use?
   Bob - Wednesday, 03/02/05 05:17:23 EST

Thanks so much for all the replies!

Analysis: (Silver steel)

Carbon 1.10% - 1.20%
Chromium 0.40% - 0.50%
Manganese 0.30% - 0.40%
Silicon 0.10% - 0.25%
Sulphur 0.035%
Phosphorus 0.035%

Oh and yes heat-treating I would presume would have little affect on density (and this is the case with the values I have been able to find), but for completeness, I was trying find a couple of published values of both treated and non-treated.

Thanks, Becky

P.S You Americans really should start working in metric!!!
   Becky - Wednesday, 03/02/05 07:03:33 EST

If using flux (borax) will destroy the lining in a propane forge what welding technique is used?
   Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 03/02/05 07:20:17 EST


A sawyer's anvil is used just like any other anvil. It just doesn't have a bick, heel or hardie hole. For those., you have to be creative and make holder on a stump that you can put a bick iron or hardie in. As for the sawyer's anvil, just put the hot metal on it and beat it.

If you want to know about tuning saw blades, a la a true sawyer, you'll need to ask one of them. That is a specialty skill that probably only a few general smiths in the country have.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/02/05 08:35:01 EST


I use a piece of scrap stainless steel sheet on the floor of my forge to catch any excess flux that drools off. I bent the edges up a bit to make it into a shallow tray. You can also use scrap tile, kitty litter (the clay kind), or anything else that will keep the flux away from the refractory lining. A coating of ITC-100 on any exposed Kaowool surfaces helps some, but is not flux-proof.

Another thing that helps greatly is to use only as much flux as is needed to make the weld and no more. A piece of scrap firebrick the holds the workpiece up off the floor is also a good idea, as it both prevents flux from touching the floor and it allows the heat to surround the work better for more uniform heat. Some folks tell me that if you mix a bit of EZ Weld flux with your regular borax, it keeps the flux from running off the work. I've not tried that, myself.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/02/05 08:41:31 EST

Ken, eBay anvil looks like any early English brand, Armitage, Foster, etc. The round "hardie hole" must have been a custom order.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/02/05 08:49:56 EST

Jerry: If you have a separate insulating (light-weight) firebrick as your forge bottom you might consider replacing it with a standard fireplace lining brick (available at building supply companies). They will withstand high temperatures but do act as a heat sink. You would have to let the forge run for a while until it absorbed all of the heat it was going to. These are cheap, so give one a try. However, the heat they absorbe might drop you below FW temperature. Worth a try if it can be easily done.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/02/05 08:56:16 EST

Anvil ebay #6159073339.
I noticed when you look at the horn end photo straight on on the entire top half leans to the right in the photo or left side of anvil. I think it may have welds that can just be seen under the horn on the left and right. The base is out of proportion with the rest of anvil. I think the base is an original old English wrought base. The top appears to be identical to one of those Vaughn Brooks English anvils. I agree with Ken someone probably copied part of a Vaughn anvil and did not have the skill to make a core for the hardy hole and just drilled it. Who really knows, though. Speculation on my part also.
   Brande Brookins - Wednesday, 03/02/05 09:10:01 EST

I have a what is it. All that I was told was that it was a Blacksmithing tool. I have many pictures.
It has 1852? , TS , and an X (probably just decoration) stamped into it. My mom got it from her great Uncle Harvey’s estate and wants to know what it is. I have my guess but don’t want to sway opinions. Don't know how to post a picture here.

Thanks in advance.
   - kENNETH tUCK - Wednesday, 03/02/05 09:15:11 EST

Keenneth Tuck,

You would have to join the Anvilfire Foto Gallery on Yahoo to post the book for all to see, but if you will send me a couple of pictures via email, I'll see if I can help you. Just click on my name at the bottom of this post to send email to me.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/02/05 09:28:40 EST

Cutting and tapping fluid. I know we've done this before but I wasnt paying attention then. What do people suggest for cutting and tapping fluids for steel? Thanks
   adam - Wednesday, 03/02/05 11:03:39 EST

#615907339, my $0.02; not the original face or step, base looks english wrought style, but no handling hole in the front foot. not cast steel.....
   - rugg - Wednesday, 03/02/05 11:05:25 EST

#615907339. Hummm, hadn't thought about someone rebuilding an old English with a new steel top plate. Will have to ask if the bottom of the hardy hole is square.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/02/05 12:04:56 EST


I use "SafeTap Paste" which is really a gel. There are a number of proprietary ones on the market, some in fluid form. Check online catalogs of Travers Tool, MSC, or McMaster Carr.

Victor Vera said they used "sebo", beef tallow, in the early days in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I've used it, and it works well. I suspect that was the norm over the centuries, until recently.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/02/05 12:41:07 EST

Becky, Why would an old Yank blacksmith want to change to metric? The old Brit inch and foot system still works. If I need precision, I can divide up the fraction and get a decimal. Besides, if we go metric, the Euro won't be far behind. (....and you really don't want to get me started on the UN.)
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/02/05 12:53:21 EST

Adam, Im gonna let you in on a secret while nobody else is looking, but you gotta promise not to tell. Go hit up an electrician for a spray can of electrical contact cleaner. A quick spritz of the stuff, and your drill bit will go from cutting chips to making curls, and, your taps will cut MUCH better, too. It IS a CFC, but very little is needed.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/02/05 13:09:55 EST

#615907339 anvil. Adam you have a good point. It may very well have new steel top plate. You can see it has some milling on the table. Why are we so interested in a junker anyway?? LOLOL :)
   Brande Brookins - Wednesday, 03/02/05 14:07:24 EST

#615907339: As surmised, someone reworked this anvil by putting a new plate on top. Hardy hole goes from round to square as it gets to the original body. Seller thinks there see the ghosts of some stone weight numbers. I looked at the photos again. Tilt may just be camera angle.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/02/05 14:10:20 EST

I was ready many of your posts about foundry made swage blocks etc... We spoke in our conversations about this stuff in brief. I may be able to give you some good direction over the phone if you contact me. I have a great deal of experience in dealing with foundries, materials, patterns and designing cast iron blacksmith tools. Centaur Forge even purchased a couple of my designs and sells them. One is a ductile iron swage block. I can fill you in on patterns/cost, foundry set up fees, pig iron went up 40% this year because of the war. Also scrap went up. Shipping rates have increased with about a 12% fuel surcharge. There is very little profit on a swage block, though. You have my secret email. You can contact me for my number. I will tell you all I know.
   Brande Brookins - Wednesday, 03/02/05 14:23:19 EST

I was wondering about the legality, wisdom and usefulness of using thermite for metalurgical purposes. Thermite is a mixture of pure aluminum dust and pure iron oxide (rust) in a 25%/75% ratio by mass respectively. It gives off rediculous ammounts of heat and I hear that it was used to weld railroad rails together quite efficiently during the great exspansion. Anyway, I learned about it in thermodynamics and wondered if it's safe, or even a good idea to use it.
PS: I'm not sure how you light it
   Matthew Marting - Wednesday, 03/02/05 14:39:26 EST

Matthew, there are lots of things around the house that will make poison gas, explosions, etc. Thermit can burn a hole thru your boot,foot and into the floor. Leave it alone, so you can grow older.
   mike-hr - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:11:25 EST

Kenneth Tuck,

What is it? After looking at all the pictures, I would say with a fair degreee of certainty that what you have is a miner's oil lamp. The part that looks vaguely like a "key" is the hanger pick, designed to either hang the lamp from a beam or by wedging into a crack in a wall. The little "pick" on the chain is just that...a pick for preening and positioning the wick, which comes up the shallow groove in the hole that has the cover. These and other similar types of oil lamps were common in the mines before the advent of acetylene headlamps. They also used the "Johnny Pick" (or Tommy Pick) candle holder, which worked similarly but used a candle instead of oil and a wick. That is a pretty nicely made one, from what I see, though I have no idea what its value is as an antique.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:14:27 EST

Ok. I didn't think it would be a good idea but I decided to ask anyway. I guess I'll just leave it alone then. Thanks for your imput.
   Matthew Marting - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:14:49 EST

Frank & 3Dogs - thanks for your tips - I will try the CFC method.

Matthew thermite is damn dangerous - it was used to make incediary bombs in WW2. That doesnt mean it cant be used safely of course. The traditional ignition is with a magnesium flare. I have heard sparklers will do it too. There is a company in Canada that still does thermite welding of RR tracks - I spoke to them a while back about mebbe welding and anvil plate on - they were very nice and quite willing to play but I decided agin it. IMO if you mess with that stuff start with *very* small quantities. Just a teaspoon ful is quite impressive

Legality? I think this varies state to state. Wisdom ?
   adam - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:19:43 EST


Thermit reactions are a perfectly valid method of doing certain jobs. The rail welding that you mentioned is just one of them. Done by trained and responsible people, it is as safe as any other welding method. Yes, it is an exothermic process that produces high temperatures, but no higher than those produced by burning acetylene with oxygen.

The chief hazard in the Thermit process (also known as the Goldschmidt Process) is that the reaction is effectively unstoppable once started. Of course, containing the process in a closed vessel will result in an explosion.

As far as the legality of using Thermit reactions goes, that may vary with your area. And your intent. It IS an incendiary process, and therefore MAY be considered possession of an incendiary device. I would have no anxieties about having/using it in my blacksmith's shop, but wouldn't want to be caught driving around a military installation with it hidden under the spare in my trunk. It's all about INTENT. Check with your local authorities to be sure you are on solid legal ground before you even THINK about using the process. And don't try it until you've been trained by a person thoroughly experienced and qualified to do so.

P.S. I DO know how to light it, and I WILL NOT publish that information here or anywhere else for fear that some damn fool will try it.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:29:31 EST

Again, thank you all for your imput. The more I hear, the less appealing thermit becomes. I think I'll just stick with oxy-acetylene for cutting and welding.
P.S. I actually do know two ways of lighting it, but decided against posting them for the same reasons as Vicopper
   Matthew Marting - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:36:55 EST

With thermit out of the question, what is the easiest way to make a hardy hole in my railroad rail anvil?
   Matthew Marting - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:42:36 EST

THERMIT in the shop: This used to be a fairly widely used process and there are books on the subject. However, the descriptions in engineering references are wowfully inadequate. When used to weld RR-rail a fired refractory clay mold that fits the specific rail is used. This has preheat ports in it that oxyacetylene rosebuds are used to heat the rail to a read heat. Then there are the refractory hoppers for the Thermit and each of those has a melting gate of a specific thickness and the sealing compound. . . ALL much more complicated than most references make out.

In the 1930's you could get Thermit in a dozen grades of strength/hardness.

I contacted Thermite Corp about a real life production job and after talking to a dozen people finally got one that was honest and admitted that they no longer had any engineers and that they no longer designed new systems using the process. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/02/05 15:47:16 EST


We have had a custom fabricated zinc countertop for three years. It was unfinished when it was installed. The oxidation process since installation has been slow and very uneven. We would like to apply a chemical to the counter to accelerate the oxidation and create a dark, bluish gray finish. Do you have any recommendations for doing this? .

Thank you.

Betsy Stroman
   betsy stroman - Wednesday, 03/02/05 16:16:19 EST

Matthew, IMHO the easiest way to get a hardy hole in your RR rail anvil is to weld a piece of heavy wall square tubing along the side soemwhere. That's what I did on my home made anvil and it works well. YOu have to makd the hardies for it but ......
   Jerry Crawford - Wednesday, 03/02/05 17:12:32 EST

Matthew; the easiest way would be to use EDM---probably also the most expensive way as well!

If I had to do it I would probably drill as large a hole as I wanted the hardy to be and then heat it up in the big forge and drift it in the flypress.

Cutting the hole in from the back with a torch/grinder and then welding a piece across it to put the 4th side comes to mind as well...

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/02/05 17:52:23 EST

In response to the Brit's question about metric, does anyone here know which President took America officially Metric?
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/02/05 19:13:37 EST

Thomas Jefferson!
   - ptree - Wednesday, 03/02/05 19:14:17 EST

Anvil fiends may find these anvils on ebay (UK) to be of some interest. Item numbers 6158250043 and 6159410024
   Bob G - Wednesday, 03/02/05 19:47:47 EST

Bob G.

Thanks for the tip! I have sent questions to both sellers, and may very well be bidding on both anvils. I *WANT* that anvil with the church windows, and would like to have the other one as well.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/02/05 20:09:55 EST

I was reading an old issue of Look Magazine from the 1940's about an Engineering College where the seniors celebrated Senior Day by going into the city and pulling down the trolly car booms. While the conductors jumped out to put the booms back up, they would thermite the trolly car wheels to the tracks and shut the whole system down! I thought it was funny that it was my alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines! There haven't been trolly cars in Golden Colorado in 50 years and the tracks disappeared about 20 years ago.
   quenchcrack - Wednesday, 03/02/05 21:08:23 EST

the trolley rails are still in the city streets in louisville,KY and are the ground grid for th power Co. Oddly, the company I now work for owns and uses for storage three of the old trolley barns. They were joined into one 6.5 acre building about 60 years ago. This was the original barn for the system, and barn is the right term as these were mule powered trolleys when the system started.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/02/05 21:49:51 EST

Thermit: an 8th grade sience teacher of mine blew the door off his garage when he tried to stop a thermit reaction with a bucket of water, the heat was high enough to seperate the hydrogen and oxygen of the water and the steam and explosion blew him and the door outside. I have other tales of thermit reactions but not sure of the statute of limitations. Grin
   habu68 - Wednesday, 03/02/05 22:09:04 EST


When I was a little kid my uncle Martin Capp took me for a ride on the trolley in Golden. As I recall, he was Dean of the civil engineering school at the School of Mines at that time. I only vaguely remember the trolley ride, that memory seems to have been eclipsed by many, many tours of the Coors brewery (and attendant free beers), when I was in high school and college. But Uncle Martin did give me a wonderful old set of leatherbound textbooks from the ICS course on Architecture and Building Design (c. 1892) that he had inherited from his father. :-)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/02/05 22:20:40 EST


In 7th or 8th grade, Joe Leiper and I did a thermite reaction in Mr. Davis's science class. Burned a hole through the soapstone benchtop and into the concrete floor. We spent the remainder of the day in the Mouse's office, as I remember. Fortunately, nothing but our backsides was hurt. (Ask Marge if she remembers the Mouse.)
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/02/05 22:25:21 EST

Becky-- silver steel doesn't match to anything that I have data on, not that I have much data to check. The US tool& die industry tends to stick with what we can easily get & have experience with. Most tool steels expand slightly when heat treated, a few shrink if overheated. You can grind off the expanded material, if it shrinks, You are SOL
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/02/05 23:08:57 EST

Vic, I blew the pipes out of the lab sink by washing sodium metal down the drain, Mr Poet never looked up, just said, Mac, clean it up and put the pipes back together. Back then NI3 and lead azide were my chems of choice. Who was the guy our senior year that brought the Dinamite to Boulder High and had it in his locker?
   Habu - Thursday, 03/03/05 00:12:41 EST

Matthew Marting-- You asked for "the easiest way to make a hardy hole in my RR rail anvil"-- I'd say that assuming your anvil has an undercut below the heel where you want the hardy, the first thing to do is mark the hole with a punch, check the manufacturer's tip chart, put the appropriate one on the business end of your torch, set the O pressure at the high end of the chart's recommendation, the acetylene around 10 or a bit higher, start the hole in the center of the rectangle and work out to the edge. Beware: there will be a geysering fountain of white hot blowback until you cut through, but hang in there-- if the cut dies before you make it all the way through, just move ahead a hair (you can't cut the slag) and start again, being especially careful to keep the cut plumb as you move around the rectangle, and why, my goodness, looky there! A hardy hole!
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Thursday, 03/03/05 01:41:00 EST


I can't remember who that was. By my senior year, I was attending Fairview, due to a slight misinterpretation of my use of some M-80s. They used language to the effect of something about turning the school into a "blackboard jungle", if I recall correctly. Youthful hijinks of the sort that are called terrorist acts these days, I'm afraid. Life really was simpler then. Lucky I'm not a "graduate" of Canon City, I suppose. (grin)
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/03/05 09:13:51 EST

Does anyone have good directions or instructions on using a tire shrinker? At the moment I can only use square wheels on my wagons...(Big Grin) I have used a tire roller a great deal...just don't know how to use the shrinker. Since the price of gas and increased insurance rates I am parking the autos and only using wagons and horses. I am letting them doodle anywhere they want on the roads. LOLOL. All seriousness I am trying to figure out how to use a shrinker with instructions or someone who really knows from experience. Not looking for anyone who thinks they are a smith and just wants to give advice because they saw a brief description in a book. Thanks
   felloffapony - Thursday, 03/03/05 09:42:07 EST

Tire Roller
Where can I find a roller/bender or plans to build a roller?
   - G Hall - Thursday, 03/03/05 10:21:27 EST


No. However, I would like to post a method of making a tire smaller that I saw in Gallup, New Mexico, at the Enterprise Blacksmith and Wagon Repair shop (now gone). The old boys there cut a measured section out of the now-oversized tire and put it into a shop made roller chain clamp. It was squeezed until the tire could be arc welded at the join.

I'm fairly certain the shop was in business into the 1970s, because so many of the Navajos had farm wagons that needed work. Most of the wagons currently in use have rubber auto tires.

Trollys. I guess my first forging experience was putting a penny on the "streetcar" tracks in St. Louis County. As the streetcar passed, us kids would run to inspect our squashed pennies.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/03/05 10:41:39 EST

G Hall
This is a website that sells new high quality tire rollers and other metal benders. I would stay away from the china made ones. This is if you can't find a vintage one as they are hard to come by. www.shopoutfitters.com/RingRolling.html
   felloffapony - Thursday, 03/03/05 11:12:51 EST

Using a tire shrinker.
Measure your wheel.
Measure your tire.
Figure out how much smaller you have to make the tire, rule of thumb is the thickness of the tire smaller than the wheel. (We're talking circumfrence)
Make 2 punch marks on the inside of the tire. Set dividers at that distance minus how much smaller you want the tire.
Bring tire to a good heat.
Make sure the shrinks jaws are as far apart as they go.
Clamp in shrink.
Use what ever method is apropriate for your shrink to bring the jaws together til the punch marks match your divider settings.
I like to spread out the upset area so it has smooth transitions. Double check your measurements and repeat till it's right.
THis answer brought to you by the letters C,S&I, and the colour blue.
   JimG - Thursday, 03/03/05 11:35:41 EST

Those harum scarum lads at MIT were said to weld trolley cars to the tracks in Boston back in the 50s-- when they were not busy filling weather balloons with water or assembling Model Ts-- in their classmates' dorm rooms.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Thursday, 03/03/05 11:35:43 EST

G. Hall,

For a simple ring roller for relatively light stock ( up to about 2" by 1/4" or so) it is easy enough to build a hand operated one. I'd recommend that you make it so that the two outside rolls can be adjusted for width as well as having the top (inner) roller adjustable for depth. That way you have a bit more control of the springback and can adjust for smaller diameters.

If you do a Google search for ring rollers, tire rollers, etc, there are a couple websites that show home built ones. If you want to roll a LOT of rings, or need to handle heavier stock, I would suggest you look at the machines made by the German companies. Big bucks, but big capacity and high quality. Ries Niemi can tell you more about the good ones; I think he owns one.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/03/05 11:51:22 EST

I am making a Hofi hammer. While reading and examining the documents it was noted that the slit for the eye is 1/8 of an inch off center to the left. Can anyone explain to me why the slit is placed 1/8 of an inch to the left of the center line?
   Fred Berg - Thursday, 03/03/05 12:54:14 EST

I'm looking for information on rebar. I understand that one can identify and/or date rebar by deformation pattern - is that correct? If so, where do I go to find such information? I am trying to date a concrete roof, which I think dates from the 1940s or later. The concrete work is fairly crude (at least compared to a nearby concrete roof dating from 1932, which is very finely done) and the rebar has Xs on it. I look forward to hearing from you and thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
Andi Adams
   Andi Adams - Thursday, 03/03/05 13:34:19 EST

Becky, metric? In the blacksmith shop I measure in anvil widths, hammer heads, hand spans... But maybe with a Czech anvil and an Israeli hammer, that is metric? ;)

   Steve A - Thursday, 03/03/05 13:54:51 EST

tire shrinker
Thank You very much JimG and Frank Turley
   felloffapony - Thursday, 03/03/05 14:18:00 EST

Funny - the same thing about welding trolley cars to the tracks with thermite was said about Carnegie-Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Tech) engineering students in the 50's and 60's. Probably didn't help matters any that the trolley line dropped off of Forbes Ave. onto a side street fronted with fraternity houses. In Pittsburgh they ran trolleys well into the 1980's, and still have a light rail system covering part of the greater area, but alas no more old style trolley cars.
   - Gavainh - Thursday, 03/03/05 14:20:16 EST

Ring Roller
This is a basic neat fabricated ring roller: www.metalsmith.org/pub/mtlsmith/V20.3/roller.htm
   felloffapony - Thursday, 03/03/05 14:31:57 EST

Hofi hammer:
While we're at it, could someone supply the dimensions of a 2-3/4 or 3lb Hofi? Mainly just the basic L, W, and H.


   - Marc - Thursday, 03/03/05 15:02:43 EST

After all this thermite chatter I went to my handbook of chemistry and physics to take a closer look at it. What I learned is I am dumber than a hoe handle. Therefore I will never mess with it. You all are light years ahead of me if you could make sense of all that information in this type of reference. I may now ask for a refund for my college education...It sure isn't helping me...LOLOLOL. :)
   felloffapony - Thursday, 03/03/05 15:21:03 EST

i've gota question about re-surfacing old anvils. would it be possible to hardsuface and older anvil that's been gouged out in places or chipped on the face?

Neophite blacksmith here. currently enrolled in a welding tech class and still collecting shop suppies.
   Lakesactor - Thursday, 03/03/05 15:41:24 EST

Hard surfacing is a procces of filling in gaps and layign surface beads on a worn surface then grinding back flush. There are electrodes out there with extreamly high tensil strenghts and such. however i'm not certain if that will translate in to a good forging surface.
   Lakesactor - Thursday, 03/03/05 15:43:57 EST


Tom Clark makes the Hofi style and might share info with you: ozarkschool.com


Don't use a hard facing rod. They are too brittle and will spiderweb on you. A good low-hy rod should work.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/03/05 16:12:29 EST

Hofi Hammer:

I did try ozarkschool and they were helpful describing the hammering technique, but I didn't get any response on my question about dimensions. I know they're pretty busy over there and didn't want to pester them any further.
   - Marc - Thursday, 03/03/05 16:56:16 EST

the way I did the hardy hole in the RR track anvils I made was to tahe a 3/4 drive sockett bore (or drill ) a hole in the tail of the anvil that the sockett would fit in and weld itin (top and Bottom ) then cut off the top part of the socktt grind flush with the face leaving the 3/4 squar hole as the hardy hole (some i used a 1/2 in hardy hole that worked well also )
Bill Epps
   Bill E - Thursday, 03/03/05 17:28:11 EST

Hey Bill,

Good to see you here!
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/03/05 18:24:50 EST

I have three Hofi style hammers from Tom Clark - the eye looks perfectly centered on each one of them. An important feature of the Hofi hammer is it's stubbiness which makes easier to roll in the hand so one can use an edge. Putting the eye off center would defeat this advantage plus cause other problems.

Cutting open a tank: A buddy wants me to torch open an old heat exchanger so he can get to the copper inside. Its about 10" dia and 4' long. It has open pipes and a drain plug so its not sealed. Can I safely torch this open or am I going to get blowed up?
   adam - Thursday, 03/03/05 19:12:17 EST

Cutting cylanders with oxy/fuel is not safe. You can get a buildup of unburnt fuel in the tank which may ultimately explode. Purge the tank and use a jigsaw.
   Bob G - Thursday, 03/03/05 19:30:49 EST

PS if you need I can send you pix of one of the Hoffi hammers with scale included and you can take your own measurements. There is also a series of three tapes from UMBA where Hofi is at Tom Clarks place teaching hammering. cost about $9 ea. I learned a lot from watching Uri's (pronounced "Oori" not "Yuri" :) ) tapes. IMO his technique is not adequately appreciated in this country. I think this has to do with his style which really rubs Americans the wrong way.
   adam - Thursday, 03/03/05 19:34:32 EST

Can you tell me how to color caseharden gun parts with charcoal and charred bone meal at home in a wood fire? I need to know where to get the quality charred bone meal and charcoal for this.I need to kmow how to get a cast iron box or container that is air tight and the fire clay to seal it with the parts inside. I have read what some others have posted other places but I seem to get the idea they are not well versed and really don't know the process.I think you will know what you are talking about and steer me in the right direction. I'm looking for the method that will give me some surface hardness for wear but want the "colors".I've read about putting the parts to be hardened in some kind of commercially retailed charred bone meal and some kind of clean charcoal inside a cast iron box that can be sealed with wire and clay and heated red for some specified amoumt of time and then the contents of the box dumped into clean cool water in a barrel with a grill half way down and a pipe with air blown into it to provide bubbles.Why the bubbles? Where can a person get the nitrates that it is said will enhance the colors when a small amount is put in the water? How much in the water? You may see that I kind of know basically how it is done but don't know where to get the best materials or the container and the specifics. I have been trying to find out a good way for a home gunsmith that works on "percussion hand guns and builds muzzleloading rifles" to do a good colorful casehardening.I bet my search for knowledge about the process is over now that I have found you out there in cyberspace. Thank you for any help you can provide me with. Wayne
   Wayne - Thursday, 03/03/05 20:38:46 EST

Adam thanks for the info on the tapes. I'll look those up right away. The next best thing to being there. I would also appreciate those pix.

By the way, what do you think of the hammer style and technique? Any bruised knuckles?

   Marc - Thursday, 03/03/05 21:07:46 EST


I'm not a gunsmith in that sense, but I do know how case hardening works. You are describing the process pretty much correctly. There is nothing magic about the iron box, actually. You can make one out of steel plate, black iron pipe and pipe caps, whatever. The object is to get the workpiece contained in a vessel that will exclude free air (oxygen) while the charcoal and bone meal or other substance gives up its carbon to the workpiece. This migration of carbon doesn't happen until you get above a certain heat, and the time required depends on the depth of carburized case you want. The details should be available in some of the better gunsmiths texts that deal with restoring or making blackpowder weapons.

One thing that I do know is that you want to know EXACTLY what you are doing when hardening receivers of weapons. A brittle receiver can suddenly come apart when subjected to pressure, resulting in tragedy. Alan L can provide better information on this than I, but I would be more than just a little bit leery of trying what you describe with any steel that even *might* have a carbon content higher than 10 or 15 points. That quench, plus the case hardening, plus the inherent carbon in the steel, could result in some pretty brittle steel, I would think.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/03/05 21:08:18 EST

BILL EPPS-- I would like to say THANKS for all the efforts you put in to the demos, on the IFORGE- HOW TO site.
I have used quite a few of them. I wish I had been around while these were being done. Thanks till you are better paid.
Chuck Bennett
   - sandpile - Thursday, 03/03/05 21:27:41 EST

Wayne-- I have read of using a pipe sleeve & plugs or a nipple and caps as Vic mentioned in " Home Gunsmithing Digest" by Tommy Bish,that was printed in the '70s.Somebody on the post allso sugested stainless heat treat foil for the container. I think someone said the air bubbles help make the colors, it is in the archives-someplace.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/03/05 21:58:22 EST

I just watched Hofi demo for two days in Marble Falls, TX. It was a packed house and everyone was appreciative. Uri is opinionated but unlike some folks, he can back up the talk and is an excellent presenter. Not only does he show you the technique, but he tells you WHY something should be done this way or another - so the principle can be applied in other situations. I handled his personal hammer and although well balanced, it was a bit too heavy for me at 1600 grams or so. However, he uses it quite well for a man of 70 and he also said that his hammers are sold by Big Blu in the USA.
   HWooldridg - Thursday, 03/03/05 22:48:29 EST

I am writing a Fantasy novel and I am in need of the knowledge of armor crafting. More in particular, from the middle ages or age of chivalry. I am interested in the daily life and the techniques for armor creation. How they would have done it back in the day. Either a very detailed response from you or a suggestion of an easy to read, yet knowledgeable, book would suffice.
   Christopher Rocco - Thursday, 03/03/05 22:48:42 EST

WAYNE What you are speaking of doing is very much in the realm, of an experienced gun-smith. I would recommend gun smithing classes under a MASTER GUNSMITH before attempting to caseharden a potential bomb to put up right under my nose.
I have seen mirror polished guns with casehardened color put on them with a torch, then browned with BIRCHWOOD PRODUCTS.
   - sandpile - Thursday, 03/03/05 23:00:35 EST

Marc, I was developing chronic tendonitis when I decided to try Hofi's method. Arm troubles cleared right up and never came back. My skill with a hammer is vastly improved. So it worked great for me.
   adam - Friday, 03/04/05 00:19:53 EST

Christopher Rocco-- In return for which research, we get exactly what? Hmmmm? A warm glow? Nahhh-- instead, how about up front (with a balloon in case they exceed expectations) a modest percentage of the expected advance, and on the royalties, from both hard cover and paper back sales, any magazine or newspaper serial sales domestic and foreign, movie, stage, TV, video, and CD deals, comic books, plus the usual vig on the kids' lunch buckets, book covers, tee-shirts, and we get to go along on the tour, right?
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 03/04/05 01:29:30 EST

Unless it is a fairly modern, low value anvil, welding on the face is a last resort. If it's a really old one, welding is an awful thing to do to it.
Welding will leave soft areas and often brittle ones too.there's no way around that. Eventually most welded up anvils will fail if hard used.
If you must weld on a nice anvil, preheat, grind out all cracks and grooves and keep track of your interpass temp. Use a proper underlayment rod for the anvil body material. Use a high impact and abraision resistant facing rod ( this is really expensive stuff). Run stringer beads and peen after each pass.
This advice contradicts both Ken's opinion as well as our most erudite Mr Turley's.
Frankly, they both know more than I do. We are all , no doubt, correct....grin
   - Pete F - Friday, 03/04/05 03:48:55 EST

Howdy. First, i just want to say how much i appreciate all the help i have received from y'all. it has really helped me on the road to developing my blacksmithing skills further.

I also wanted to ask about building a hydraulic press. I have seen the various designs, and have decided on the kind i am going to build, which is an H-Frame type. My question is: do i need a large anvil like on power hammers for my press, or would a cross piece with a way to mount the dies suffice? I hame seen these presses both ways, and i am wondering which would be better.

Once again, i really appreciate all the help you guys have given me.

Thanks, Ian Wille
   Ian Wille - Friday, 03/04/05 05:40:14 EST

Dear Guru,

I want to know if I can use wood instead of coal for my "future forge"? I've heard that coal is hard to come by and it is getting very expensive! I also heard that about 1 ton of wood, or half a cord (I think) would make a good fire. Please help me, thank you.

future blacksmith teaching myself since I don't think I should travel 2000 miles just to go to school for it. This is my dream and I will do it by myself.
   Matt Hunter - Friday, 03/04/05 06:53:33 EST

Wayne, as vicopper said you have the gist of it. I will say right off the bat I have not done this, but I have met one gunsmith who has, and I know the Guru has as well. He can give you the details you want, but is currently under the weather with the flu.

What I CAN do for you is to give a little additional info and tell you how to fake it so well even the experts can be fooled.

SAFETY DISCLAIMER: DO NOT apply heat to any gun part if you are not an expert. Period. I mean it.

The color case-hardening process is only safe to use on gun parts that are made of wrought iron or a mild steel that is not hardenable by other means. This is because you really don't want a brittle piece of steel somewhere that has to contain pressure or is subject to recoil. Black powder revolver frames, for instance, are not a good thing to make brittle lest ye want the cylinder to end up in the middle of your forehead. Modern investment cast lockplates are made from 4140 steel. This stuff will harden somewhat on its own, but not so much that color casing will be dangerous IF AND ONLY IF you hold the part at 350 degrees f for a few hours afterwards. This will relieve some stress, but still leave the temper colors intact. A higher heat will wash out the colors, since all they are is a film of oxides altered by heat anyway. That's why the bubbles make for a mottled look, differential cooling.

Now then: To get the look of color case hardening safely on any non-stainless steel at room temperature, you need some kind of degreasing solvent, some distilled water, and some instant gun blue. Formula 44-40 works well, Birchwood-Casey cold blue is better, but don't use one with selenium salts as this doesn't work with them. Wear latex gloves so your skin oils don't screw it up. Step 1: degrease the part with solvent or hot soapy water until it's so clean water sheets rather than beads. Step 2: dip the part in distilled water. You want as thin and even a sheet of water as you can get. Step 3: dip a toothpick or other pointy wooden thing in your blueing solution and gently apply it to the steel. Here's where your artistic abilities come into play. You can flick the blueing on, you can tap the tip, you can draw lines, etc. While you watch, the magic of chemistry will create a mottled rainbow of oxide colors just like case colors! If you don't like how it's going, wash it off and start over. That, then, is a genuine trade secret.
   Alan-L - Friday, 03/04/05 09:10:01 EST

Addendum to the above: I have not done actual color case hardening. I HAVE done the fake method. Just clearing up any confusion.
   Alan-L - Friday, 03/04/05 09:11:24 EST

Mr. Rocco
I will apologize for someones rude comments to you in a previous post. I wish I had info to help. It is obvious that person does not realize you are lucky to make a few dollars over your cost when you publish and market a book. How many organizations have their hand out for their cut. I don't know who that that is. I am sorry for someones improper remarks to you on this forum.
   hammersignals - Friday, 03/04/05 09:22:30 EST

Adam, thanks for the info. I'm going through the same problems and had heard Hofi's method might help. That was the driving force behind my interest in both the hammer and the technique. UMBA's online library appears to be down right now, but I'll try emailing some of the officers.

I noticed that the Ozark School is now selling hammers on eBay. Same $100 price, though. I'm looking to make my own for a couple reasons. One, I've never made a hammer this size and want the experience. Two, as much as I'm sure the hammer is worth every penny, $100 is a little too much to gamble without trying it first.

   Marc - Friday, 03/04/05 09:23:17 EST

Christopher Rocco: Likely your answer is as close as your library. Even a small public library has access to a great number of books on a loan basis. Locally there is a handling charge to cover shipping costs. Just go to the title file (may be computerized now) and search on any title with armor in it (I think the European spelling is armure or something). Also look for books dealing with life in the middle ages and those dealing with knights. When you find a book of general interest look for additional titles via both the footnotes and reference section. Perhaps someone can suggest a title to get you started in your search.

Writing a book and making any money off of it is another story. I have had well over 300 articles published, and did a self-published book. Have received a total of about $50 in payment for articles and I can give away the book, but few are interested in paying for it. The cost of self-publishing has come down greatly with the instant printing services, but you still have to have a market. From your description your competition is likely a thousand just like it out there.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/04/05 10:19:57 EST

Depending on where in the U.S. (I assume) you live, coal can be inexpensive or not. In the Western U.S. a good portion of the cost involves getting it here in the first place. I have first hand experience with this as the truck load of coal (22 ton) we bought last year cost as much to ship as to buy. You can reduce the wood to CHARCOAL, not the little bricks you get in the supermarket but real, whole, HARDWOOD charcoal. This will burn well and do a good job, raw wood will not. Ever wonder why there are no large forests in Europe? Yep, used for fuel.

As to traveling 2000 miles to learn, I bet you have access to someplace to learn within an hours drive of wherever you live. Do a search of the ABANA website to find a state chapter, contact them and find out where locally you can get instruction. You may be surprised at how much help is out there.

Of course you could do it all yourself and never learn 1/10 as much as you would with help. You might even learn how NOT to hurt yourself.
   - Wayne Parris - Friday, 03/04/05 11:05:56 EST


All I have is a little lore that was given to me by a gunsmith a long time ago. He said that leather gives red, and bone gives blue. He said that the casing pot should be held at a red heat for five hours.

The video, "The Gunsmith of Williamsburg", clearly shows the case hardening of wrought iron lock parts, but does not show color case hardening. The thin, high carbon case is an anti wear thing. The color is secondary to that.

   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/04/05 11:40:25 EST

This forum gives out FREE advice to amateurs and professionals alike. That is the PURPOSE of this forum. People routinely take what they learn here and use it to earn income. Why should we discriminate against an author over say, a smith? On the contrary - a well written story about smithing may help bring young people (and some old ones too) into the craft. US smithing is still recovering from a severe drought in which the craft was almost lost in this country. We really dont need to be snooty (or snotty) to outsiders.

For those who imagine that writing a book is a is a quick ride to wealth, lottery tickets have a better success rate and cost less effort.

   adam - Friday, 03/04/05 11:46:58 EST

Christopher Rocco; Armor Making Information:

You also might try over at the Armour Archive at: http://www.armourarchive.org/ . They have a lot of basic information about armor in several periods, and the “Discussion” boards are sometimes helpful; once you've done some initial research and have some more detailed questions. They should also have some bibliographical information that should be of use to you in asking for inter-library loans (ILL) at your local library.

There is also an "Armoury" page here at Anvilfire in the pull-down menu at the upper right, which contains information on several armor forging operations, including raising a helm.

I think that the initial response was a reaction to so many questions that we get here that, essentially, ask: "Tell me all you know about XYZ." and no apparent research. Many of our people are quite knowledgeable, and we can rattle on for hours about our specialties, but a forum such as this is much better at answering specific questions and pointing the way to further resources. When I'm researching a subject it's a combination of library study (both my home library and the public) to comprehend what's involved, and then I usually can post on an internet bulletin board for more specialized information.

Cold and sunny on the banks of the Potomac. I took my eldest daughter (the theater techie) and one of the crew to Carmina Burana last night at the MCI center. It was a, umm, SPECTACLE! The three of us exchanged comments on the stagecraft, the music, the FIREWORKS, and muddled our translations of the Latin and German.
As a warm-up they had a short program of Verdi; and we were crushed when they didn't use an anvil in the Gypsy ("Anvil") Chorus! Some dingly little chime!

"Mumble, grumble... 21st century... grumble.. not like the 13th (thank God)... grouse-grouse-grouse!”

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 03/04/05 11:49:41 EST

From one do it yourselfer to another: take Wayne's advice. I spent three years trying to make a forge untill I asked for help. Then it took me three hours. How much these experienced smiths know is scary. Blacksmithing has taken well over three thousand years to be perfected through trial and error. There is very little chance that one person could progress to the current unterstanding of the craft with less than eighty years (the average life expectancy) to experiment in. And it is vital for your appendages that you take a safety course. I didn't used to be a safety advocate untill I lost my middle finger to a 14" miter saw. Trust me, the craft will be far less frustrating (and painful) if you take some classes.
P.S. I have no doubt that you can do it on your own, but I'm sure that it will be a heck of a lot easier with someones help.
P.P.S. I know that a miter saw has nothing to do with blacksmithing, but one does work with cutting torches and at the very least, red hot steel. Thus there are plenty of ways to lose any and every possible appendage or organ.
   Matthew Marting - Friday, 03/04/05 11:54:51 EST

P.P.P.S. I'm not trying to be condecending, I'm a beginner too.
   Matthew Marting - Friday, 03/04/05 11:56:39 EST

Christopher; first you have to tell us what kind of armour; in Europe armour was predominately maille until the 1300's then transitional maille and plate during the 1300's and pretty much all plate after 1400. The shop and the techniques differ over time.

A few basics: there are no 1 person armour shops, there will *always* be a bunch of apprentices and journeyman in the shop with a master armourer. The armourer does not smelt his own ore, he buys wrought iron from dealers. He may then have it forged out in his shop or send it to a battermill (water powered tilthammer) to make it into plate that will then be forged into plate armour.

Most modern armourers work cold---but they are working with mild steel---as a blacksmith how real wrought iron works cold! Note that all the pictures of armouries have a forge smackdab in the middle of the shop! I will refer you to the armourarchive.org but suggest you ask specific questions in the research and authenticity forum as many of the other forums are dedicated to *modern* materials and methods and so not real up on medieval ways.

Note that an armoury in many places sent the forged armour out to be polished, some of the german hausbuchs show pictures of polisher's at work.

Armouries are in big cities of the time---no small village armourers. Think of them as being a rolls royce dealership of the day. Certain areas were known for their armour work---often due to having good iron or natural steels locally. Sometimes you would even have specialty armourers, one that did helms or brest plates.

Most armour was not steel and was not heat treated. Towards the end of the age of armour they did start using higher carbon iron/steel and learned to heat treat---and then it reversed as armour became more for show and firegilding and engraving do not go well with heat treated carbon steel.

Dr Alan Williams is one of the foremost authorities of the *metallurgy* of armour; most of his work is not what you want but: "The Royal Armoury at Greenwich 1515-1649 A History of Its Technology" WILLIAMS & de REUCK would help a bit. "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" is much more into the technical aspects of the metallurgy and so not what you want.

For a good look at an armourer in a fiction book, I have never found a better one than "The Burnished Blade" (ISBN:0426061705) Lawrence Schoonover (There are 5 copies at $1 on abebooks.com)

Gotta get back to work, my e-mail address is correct on *this* post if you want to take it offline.

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/04/05 12:18:54 EST

> For those who imagine that writing a book is a is a quick ride to wealth, lottery tickets have a better success rate and cost less effort.

Yea, verily!
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/04/05 12:24:34 EST

Hoowhaw! You haven't been reading the papers lately, hammersignals. For all we know, this Rocco chap is the next Tolkien, or perhaps the next J.K. Rowling. We certainly hope so. But: just to be clear, Christopher, we want the vig off the top, too, all the way through, not after the sharp pencil guys in the studio offices and your office get through with figuring the "gross." Have your people call our people and we'll set up a lunch.
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 03/04/05 12:26:24 EST

BTW I have met Sebastian Chippinghammer; who is a published author under his real name and one who has spent many hours and dollars researching his topics. I think he was commenting that what was asked was essentially for us to spend our time researching and publishing pages of information for CR's specific use---I mean to properly answer CR's request would take several *hundred* pages of information----for someone who so far has only joined our community for the purpose of using it. Or to put it otherwise; that folks should expect to do their own research. A fairly reasonable viewpoint for someone in the craft of writing.

But as we are dedicated to the free sharing of information and as it is not my job---where doing so free would be taking money out of my kids mouth (braces you know). (Remember that line from I, Cladius---"My hobby is gardening....") I try to get people started down what I see as the correct path; shoot I was reading and commenting on an early iron age story for an author earlier this week!

So first: Narrow the Focus, then places to look, then comeback and lets discuss.
   Thomas P - Friday, 03/04/05 12:35:58 EST


Not a how-to book, but one I like is a Dover Publications reprint of a 1909 book, "British and Continental Arms and Armor" by Charles Henry Ashdown. My copy is from 1970.

It will give you illustrations, photos, and some of the terminology used in describing the parts.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/04/05 12:39:42 EST

I am interested in the Rockwell hardness of T1 steel. Does anyone have that handy? Also I would be interested in your estimation of the life span of a 24"X36" table made from a sheet of 1 1/2 of that same T1. I know I will have to brace the center to prevent cupping but what about the surface itself, any issues of durability?
   Ken Nelson - Friday, 03/04/05 12:49:25 EST

Ken Nelson-

I assume you mean T1 structural steel and not T1 tool steel. I don't know the hardness of this grade, but like most steels, it will vary with how it was thermally processed. I would guess, based on its typical application, that it is less that 30 HRc. As for longevity, that question cannot be answered without a thorough understanding of the application and what you condsider to be non-functional. For example, if it were kept in a climate controlled museum, it would probably last several thousand years. If it were sunk in the ocean, you might get fifty. And, if you bring it to my place of employment and use it as a floor plate, it probably won't last 5 months. Operating environment is critical. Assuming use as a welding/assembly table, it will out last you.

   Patrick Nowak - Friday, 03/04/05 13:34:17 EST

Thank You Paw Paw You said it best in your last post. Last night I read the first chapter of your book. It made me start to weep. I really felt like I was in the moment. Now I desire to read the rest of it.

It is a funny thing knowledge. My Dad and I have spent many hours in deep coversation concerning the sharing of information or rather why others will not untill it is but gone. In fact it has been a calling from God for me. I have never concerned myself if anyone makes a monetary gain from knowledge I share. In the end someone with no such intentions will benefit from it anyway. Sometimes the hours spent to help someone gather information has been a special journey and developed into special relationships with others. I want to always give freely with all I know. The journey has taken me many places. Humility is part of Wisdom.
   hammersignals - Friday, 03/04/05 13:53:28 EST

And for each author that makes it big how many fail to make even minimum wage? But you dont read about those in the papers. Just like you dont read about all the ticket holders who's number didnt come up. It's similar to acting - a few names make it big - the others all wait tables etc. I happen to know a number of professional writers (my dad is one)- they all barely scrape by.

Don't feel like supplying information? Then dont - leave the job for others. If you want to sell your knowledge that's fine too but this is not the forum. Why be unfriendly to someone who asked a perfectly appropriate question?
   adam - Friday, 03/04/05 14:16:47 EST

Finishes at the Washington National Cathedral: I know this only from the experiance with my friend's work -- nothing more than what the smith provided on installation. Much is this work is waxed or lightly oiled and that is it. Much is rusting and it not the way it was originaly finished. When my friend Josh found his rail rusting he made a trip back with steel wool and some wax and did the rewax himself.

Much of the ironwork in the Washington National Cathedral was installed "au-natural" and has been rusting ever since. The Cathedral folks do not know what to do with it so for the time being it just rusts. They MAY BE oiling some of the work but it is rusting just the same.

This is a problem I have harped on in this forum from day one and will continue to do so until my dying breath. Blacksmiths MUST take control of and finish their work for its lifetime. If you are so in love with that newley polished scale finish then try putting into your contract to heat to 2,000°F annualy and wire brush as necessary! Don't forget to warn that RUSTING WILL OCCUR within days and the life of the work is probably less than that of its creator.

Wax and oil finishes (such as are in use in the WNC) are aging finishes. The work rusts through the finish at a reduced rate. Eventually the work has a nice even coat of brown rust. However, the rusting WILL NOT STOP. It is on the was to the scrap heap if the rust is not stopped. If you clean off the loose rust and rewax the process will continue but at a slower rate. Every time the work is cleaned rust will be removed. . . until there is nothing left. And ALL THIS EFFORT and a red-oxide brown finish is replacing the polished scale finish the smith loved so much. . . This is LAZY and assumes the work has a finite life.

If you want a BROWN finish, then paint it BROWN. If you want a silver grey scale finish then PAINT IT to look like silver grey scale. This can be done automotive lacquers to look EXACTLY like brushed steel. But without the RUST.

Painting to make something look natural is an ART. But if you don't want you work painted flat black then learn the art of applying layered finishes and glazes or find someone that knows how. It is part of doing the job.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/05 14:17:08 EST

Sharing Knowledge vs. Research vs. Doing the work: The problem was in how the question was asked. It was very close to the kids that come here and directly quote their term paper question and want the answer in 1000 words or less. . . (the instructions on the test. . ).

How ANY hand craft is done is pretty involved especially when dealing in an historical period. Then PLACE becomes more important than the actual date. The history of technology is not globaly uniform nor did it follow the same paths.

In my opinion to write WELL about a thing it must be studied in depth one way or the other. You either need to learn the skill yourself OR spend a lot of time with those that practice those skills. To write you need details such as how long does it take to learn, how much pain is involved while learning, does it require 100% concentration or do I have time to think about other things???

Asking to write in detail how something was done in an exact period of time, to use in writing a book, is no different than asking to do ones homework or term paper. It was not the question but the way it was stated.

On these questions the best we can do is point to the literature. We have several on-line bibliographies that go a long way. Then there are the how-to articles that get into details not found in books. But to REALLY know these tasks you should get into the shop, get some blisters, know the sounds of the materials taking shape. . .

Insulting Questions: I have been an engineer and a smith long enough to know how a LOT of machinery operates that I do not have personal experiance with. I thought the tire shrinker question was one of those questions. A tire shrnker upsets the tire to use up length. Upsetting this crossectional area in a ring is a tough job as is ANY upsetting. As a result tire shrinkers are one of the heaviest "hand" tools you will find in the blacksmith shop. The metal needs to be near a white heat, quickly clamped in the shrinker and TWO full grown men but all their weight on the shrinking levers. To handle the tire and clamp the tire quickly takes two men to be efficient and successful most of the time. Some shrinkers have a single lever so one man can operate it while others have two levers. However, even when there is a single lever you may still need a helper to hammer the upset down (as they often buckle upward making a kink) OR help pull the lever! On top of upsetting taking a lot of force shrinkers are a high friction tool. A bucket of graphite or powdered coal in soap water would probably be a great help. In a modern shop we would use Never-Sieze.

Wheelwrights with good welding skills often just cut out a section and rewelded the tire avoiding the use of the upsetter altogether. In later days when arc welders were common in wheel shops a shrinker would just be an antique collecting dust. . . They were a (relatively) modern invention that was rapidly replaced by a different technology. In a 1940's educational film titled "The Blacksmith" everything was done by traditional methods until it was time to weld the tire. . . then out came the buzz box!

Note that there were at LEAST a dozen different tire shrinker mechanisms. Some squeezed from both sides while others worked againast a stationary clamp. Some used clamp screws and others cams or toggles. And I have seen one with double clamping from a single lever and another with double clamping from two seperate levers. The specific preadjustments and step by step operation of all these machines is different while the general process is the same.

I've got about 2/3 of a Mole tire shrinker that is FREE to anyone that wants the parts. . . . no shipping (you pickup).
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/05 15:13:27 EST

Quick Notes:

One of my friends once told me that when you start doing blacksmithing "A day at a hammer-in is more valuable than a year of mucking about in the forge on your own." Pretty much true until you get your feet under you, and even then you always have "Ah-ha" moments at any good blacksmithing event watching how other folks do the work. Lessons with an experienced smith, like Frank, would be even more valuable.

The Armour Archive home page is presently down. It will probably be back up later today or tomorrow.

Bibliographies- Just knowing which books to look at can save a lot of time, since there's a lot of bad or outdated information out there. If you're going to go barking up trees, at least we can point out the ones with the racoons in them.

Painting ironwork- It's noted in the English Medieval Decorative Ironwork book (see the Anvilfire "bookshelf")that a number of grills were painted and/or gilded. Also, a lot of Colonial American ironwork was painted with the same paint as the door or the shutter or lid; not painted or finished in contrast, but painted to match. I guess fashions change, but "rust never rests." ;-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 03/04/05 15:49:34 EST

The Big SCORE: Was the title of an article in Playboy magazine many years ago. It gave the odds and downsides to various methods of getting rich quick. These included white collar crime, winning the lotto and writing a best seller among other things. White collar crime was and still is the #1 way to get rich quick. Downside included the jail time which varies acording to who you steal from and how. But most of these guys get AWAY with what they have stolen. . . They calculate that easy year in a Federal prision as part of the costs. People you DO NOT steal from include the mob if you want to live to enjoy your ill gotten booty.

The odds on a best seller did not look too bad UNTIL they pointed out the fact that 95% of that 10% of books that make it were all written by the same very small group of authors. A lot of what makes a book a best seller is not the writing. It is how it is promoted, name recogition of the author. . did it makes Ophrah's reading list? When you are not part of that group of authors the publishers are pushing then the odds drop to as little as 500:1 . . instead of 10:1.

The odds are MUCH better than the lottery however you have to consider the costs and the fact that most authors only have ONE good novel in them. Will it be your first or your last or the only?

THEN. . . There are big name writers like Steven King who WORK for a living. He has made some serious money but he continues to write EVERY DAY to keep that cash flowing. . . No work, no money. . . its a job like any other.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/05 16:08:28 EST

Does anyone over here own/use a ForgeMaster Blacksmith Forge? I have a question about the front door.
   Robert - Friday, 03/04/05 16:09:25 EST

Paint and Color: I've seen a lot of old iron that was painted to match the house or the trim. . . In Costa Rica where every house has gates and window guards the metalwork is usualy painted the same color as the window and door trim. If a house is a light green then the trim (and metal work) might be a darker green. About the only time you see black ironwork is when it is seperate from the house such as a stand alone fence or gate. Color is still better.
   - guru - Friday, 03/04/05 16:13:54 EST

tire shrinker...insulting question???
I always respected you a great deal-now you shock me...perhaps your illness is a factor. I actually know that person and he is a very mild manner kind person always quick to listen and ask questions (truely more intelligent than most people I have meet). I know he knows the gist of how a shrinker works...I am assuming he was looking for someone who actually did wheelwright work with a great deal of experience. I will suggest he be more specific in the future with questions. I myself have meet so many smiths who are truely skilled and talented and way too full of themselves and belittle people in the process. I will call him and let him know about your post and suspect he worded his question from the above stated. I will ask his intent. I thought there were some pretty darn nice people on this site and I have been shocked today by a couple of you inclusive of the founding father here. Lets think outside the box...maybe when people ask questions they know how to do something, but may be open to get a more refined view...hence learn. I don't want to get all religious on you. "Be quick to listen and slow to speak". This is a generalized statement and not an attack that will follow- othis is a social disclaimer. A great deal of intelligent people learned in areas such as engineering look at things with centration or one dimensionally. Sometimes can't really read between the lines of a queastion be to absolute or black and white in what someone who asks a question. I do know what I am talking about with a social science background. I am leaving here forever. Paw Paw,Frank Turley & Adam before I depart forever from this site. You gentalmen have earned my utmost respect. Thank You I believe Rocco was asking a specific question via a broad manner. Many nice people gave him good direction. Some of you really were insultive.
   hammersignals - Friday, 03/04/05 16:47:36 EST

I just got off the phone with hammersignals. Sorry Guru...I was hoping to find an old fella who has made wheels all his life who new better than me. JimG helped me a great deal. I was lucky and just purchased a book at an antique store dated 1891 on blacksmithing for a premium. The author talks about several ways to shrink ring/wheels and all the wrong way to do it. I never new a simple mechanical machine was so complicated in processes to shrink wheels. What you consider and insultive question was just my attempt to learn to make em right. Your modern methods are all incorrect according to this book. Not such a smart engineer are ya!
   felloffapony - Friday, 03/04/05 17:25:33 EST

Can you give me a good formula for determining the correct height the anvil should be from the ground to the top of the anvil?
   Clif - Friday, 03/04/05 18:00:34 EST

On welding up an anvil, there are basically two approaches to it. One a fairly easy and inexpensive way (e.g., 7018) and another more complicated and expensive way (e.g., hard facing rod). 7018 is something like $1.00 a pound. I haven't priced work hardening, but suspect it is among those in the three rods to a pack display at over $1.00 a rod.

Anvils simply don't see the heavy usage they once did. Look at the ads in AIA to see companies offering to repair broken or worn-out anvils - including some of the highest quality ones made, such as the PW and American wrought iron bodies, steel plate anvils.

IMHO, for a moderately heavy user one repaired with 7018 rod will likely outlive them. However, if you are a profession and make your living off of the anvil top, then by all means had it repaired by a professional using the best repair material available. It then becomes worth the extra cost.

On repairing old anvils, it all depends on the user. Postman still gives me dirty glances for my having rebuilt a colonial-era anvil for someone. What they had may have been period-authentic, but they wanted to be able to use it in the same manner as it original owner. Now if someone were to look real close they might see my repairs, but likely 99.9% of others won't.

I'm like PawPaw: an anvil is a tool.

Ken Scharabok
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/04/05 18:03:00 EST

Anvil Height, Clif
The old rule of thumb is knuckle height of your hammer hand.
Like any rules of thumb this has more exceptions than not.
What sort of work are you doing? Most people find an higher anvil easier on the back when doing lighter work. If you are working single handed using a struck tool in one hand and the hammer in the other, make sure the anvil is at least the thickness of the stock your using lower than your inseam.
This answer brought to you by the letters C,S,I and the colour blue.
   JimG - Friday, 03/04/05 18:20:56 EST

Clif, the anvil should be of a height such that you are not bending over it to work and your hammer hits flat with no strain to you arm.

This means that the height is dependent on your height/build and what you are doing---for heavy work my anvil may need to be 4" lower than for fine work.

The old oft quoted rule of thumb was that the face should be at the level of your knuckels when standing next to it---but this is much more from an era when heavy work with a striker and set tools was the norm and now is considered too low for many smiths. I find it so for bladesmithing.

Hammersignals: I have my good and bad days myself; but so far I've managed to not be driven off and I hope I have not driven anyone off from here. If you think this was "insultive" you are a babe in the woods on the internet; some supposedly technical forums can't pass the "kid filter" at home! Do what you think you must do; we will probably muddle on here as we have in the past. Perhaps we will see you across the street at forgemagic.com?

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/04/05 18:27:36 EST

Ken My first purchase from Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools just arrived.An anvil stand. It is a thing of beauty and sure fits my swage block perfect. I love the hammer and tong holders. Nice!!
   burntforge - Friday, 03/04/05 18:31:53 EST

ohh boy Tommy P LOLOL
   burntforge - Friday, 03/04/05 18:39:07 EST

Last I heard a couple of years ago Philip Simmions was in the nursing home. I think about him a great deal. Is he still alive and well? Does anyone know? I am thingking he would be in his early 90's if he is alive. He has been my inspiration. I just wonder.
   burntforge - Friday, 03/04/05 18:44:43 EST

Paw Paw who carries your book?
   burntforge - Friday, 03/04/05 18:46:01 EST

On anvil stands, consider one of 2" x 4" at the ends only with two per level. Next layer is opposite direction. This leaves the center hollow. Put on a strong top of say two layers of 2" x 12". You can adjust this stand up or down 1 1/2" by adding or taking off a layer of 2" x 4".

I custom made a stand for a buyer in CA. He said he had a bum back and wanted it 6" higher than knuckle height.

There is a blacksmithing group in the Charleston, SC area named after Mr. Simmons. The contact point for them should be able to update you on him.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/04/05 20:08:28 EST


A couple of state and national parks and historical sites.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/04/05 20:25:10 EST

Well, I knew it had to happen one day. I had a new hire in my office today giving him my standard "safety first" lecture. At the end of my speach he looked up at the big painting of the blacksmith I have hanging behind my desk and asked if I did real blacksmithing. Well, I lied and said yes. He said "I've been visiting that site Anvilfire" and I want to set up a forge". Young man, if you work for Maverick, here I am!
   quenchcrack - Friday, 03/04/05 21:10:34 EST

burntforge- a couple of months ago Phillip Simmons gave a lecture at our local museum in Charlotte NC.-- did a great
slide show presentation-- after the lecture he had a book signing for his books--very much alive and gets around good
   - ptpiddler - Friday, 03/04/05 21:43:13 EST

Hammersignals, I am truly sorry to hear you say you are leaving here forever. I went back and re-read Jock's posting re: questions, and ain't nothing there to warrant your taking such offense. 'Twas my bit of sarcasm that popped the cork here and I regret it. My deepest apologies to you and all the other selfless, kind-hearted, generous, public-spirited, etc. etc, blacksmiths who share their knowledge with all who seek aid and succor(s).
   Sebastian Chippinghammer - Friday, 03/04/05 22:51:18 EST

I will state that I found felloffapony's original question about the tire shrinking more than just a little bit insulting. Specifically, the "Not looking for anyone who thinks they are a smith and just wants to give advice because they saw a brief description in a book."

Not all of the advice given here is absolutely, exactly, perfectly, 100% totally accurate every time. But htose who take the time to answer questions here do so with the best of intentions and try to give the best answers they can. Free answers. In fact, most of the frequent providers of information are those who have actually paid money to this site, to support it and maintain it for the benefit of those who come here for that free advice. So when some nimrod demands that only the most knowledgeable person in the universe answer him, implying that anyone else is too ignorant to have any concept, he is being gratuitously insulting to a lot of very fine, very knowledgeable folks.

When that same nimrod deliberately insults the peerson who built this site and has kept it running all these years, dispensing freely information worth thousands of dollars, it is not only gratuitous but unconscionable. If he and his ilk depart, I will miss them not at all.

This is posted not as philosophical castigation. This is direct, straight-up personal castigation. It was earned.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/05/05 02:03:29 EST

Matt H:
Like many of us, I'm self taught, and most of us didn't have the web to refer to...no reason that you can't teach yourself if you have the will and enough talent. You can save a huge % of the time i wasted by doing good research. There is a teriffic amount of smithing material now that was very hard to come by not long ago..it won't be easy, but you have to be stubborn to be a smith.
I'll tell you one big mistake..it was not taking Mr Turleys basic class in the beginning, many years ago....miles and bucks not withstanding.
Now-a-days I'd say, hitch hike , even crawl if necessary,to the nearest hammerin.
Wood, turned to charcoal has been the most popular fuel through-out most of history. Check the archives for how to make your own charcoal.
About communications amongst strong headed crusties....
Metal is a recalcitrant medium, the folks who work it have to be self motivated and hard headed and independant. We trot out there and impose our wills on reality . We have come here from all over the social spectrum with smithing in common. It's a given that most of us disagree on most things.
With that understanding, you can see why it's necessary to be extremely tolerant, respectful and to cut each other a hell of a lot of extra slack,if we are to function and communicate.
We wouldn't have these problems if most of you weren't wrong of course........grin
   - Pete F - Saturday, 03/05/05 03:24:54 EST

Dear Guru,

Thank you for helping me out with your answer, although I'm still confused a bit he he. When you say wood in the supermarket what do you mean? I mean to go out and chop down some dead wood, or "beetle wood" out in the forest. I live in Cody Wyoming about fifty miles from the Yellowstone entrance. To make a long post short, what do you mean by "raw wood"? I thought all wood was considered raw? I know I might sound like a moron but I just need some answers that's all. I also don't believe that there is an ABANA chapter in Wyoming, at least not anywhere near me. And another thing to add, I did work in a bronze foundry that helped me out a bit about blacksmithing. Lastly how hard could blacksmithing be? I mean all you do is heat up your metal and beat it with a hammer right? Same thing as being a horse jockey....you just get on a horse and beat it with a stick right? ha ha.. ok, Well thank you Guru, what ever your real name is, Lot's of help you are and always will be! :)

Matt Hunter
   Matt Hunter - Saturday, 03/05/05 05:19:47 EST

And this is my last post for tonight!

Pete F, I would reply back in email but obviously I can't, thanks for the info!

Matt H.
   Matt Hunter - Saturday, 03/05/05 05:58:07 EST

Ken Nelson, I have a table of T-1 structural plate 1-1/2 inches thick. It sits outside. Some of it gets rained and snowed on and some is under the lean to roof. For general smithing and metal fab work, it is a pleasure to use. Mine is slightly magnetic and that's helpful when grinding and welding. Gotta wipe the swarf off the edges occasionally though. I have not braced the center and mine is about 3 by 4 feet without going to measure it. I hammer on it regularly with no ill effect. Use it it to cold straighten 5/16" spring wire frequently. A hammer will ding it if hit hard. I expect it will outlast me and a few more generations. There is a tight rust patina on it, but it is not rusting to dust. Occasionally it might get some oil spilled on it, but I don't think that is affecting the rust level. I don't know the hardness either, but I suspect Patrick is right. About 30's Rc. Maybe low 40's. I used the mag drill to drill a "drillpress hole" in it a while back and I can tell you it was doable, but not easy. VERY tough stuff. Mine came from manitowoc cranes scrap. I'm told they have their own T-1 based chemistry spec, but I can't confirm that.

In other words, you will be happy with it for similar work except it might be a smidge small. Grin!

I have other tables 1-1/2" thick and thicker. They are all a joy to work on compared to tables 1/2" thick. All of mine have welded tube legs and shelves of 3" channel welded to the tube legs with a 3" toe space. Tube legs are at least 2-1/2" pipe. With 1/2" thick square pads welded to the bottom of the tube to spread the weight out. When one of those tables is over concrete, I put a pad of rubber conveyor belting under each leg pad.

Hope that helps.
   - Tony - Saturday, 03/05/05 09:12:26 EST

Matt: The charcoal you can buy at a supermarket (or elsewhere) for BBQ grills is done through a large commercial process. I have been told it is pretty well any wood they can find to fill the container. Premium charcoal is made from hardwoods, such as oak.

Yes, raw wood can be used for blacksmithing, but has severe limitations of the heat produced, you will always have somewhat of a 'dirty' fire and the volume you will have to use. At one time in Colonial America many families made nails in their hearths during winter.

For the time and effort it takes to make charcoal it might be worth buying commerically.

Have you considered propane? It should be readily accessible to you. Just a couple of years ago you could only purchase a commercial model. However, now they are being offered by small shops at a more reasonable cost. Technology is simple enough to where if you have a moderately equipped metal shop you can make your own. If you plan to do forge welding in one, make sure the one you buy is guaranteed to be able to do so. I tell folks the day I put a propane forge in my shop was pretty well the last day the coal forge was used.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/05/05 09:20:41 EST

Old Books: I clearly do not consider myself an expert on most things. I do know more than average about some things. I have read a few old books about technical things and some of them were pure rubbish. Seems that a hundred years ago, authors were not held to the same standards of accuracy and integrity as today. Now, I don't mean to imply that all old books are worthless. Just make sure the author has been found to be respectable and trustworthy. As for taking offense at what has been written here, Ive done that a few times too. Mostly I mis-understood what was intended because the written word lacks body and facial clues as to what is really being said. Stick around and learn more about this group. I have found them to be a pretty straight up bunch of folks.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/05/05 10:25:38 EST


Wayne was referring to the *charcoal* you buy in the supermarket, not wood. By raw wood, he just meant wood that hasn't been made into charcoal yet.
   Mike B - Saturday, 03/05/05 10:55:31 EST

I have to say thank you to the people that gave advise on the color casing proceedure. Thanks guys. I have used a torch to revive color on percussion hand gun frames with pretty good results but have a difficult time getting the mottled look to the colors. Am I stupid to assume that since the revolver frames are made with pretty mild steel that it would be difficult to harden them too brittle? Is a metals ability to harden with the "heat it red and quench in water" method tied to it's carbon content as in very mild steel doesn't harden well or get brittle? The Italian manufacturers of the guns will not give up any info as to what kind of steel the guns frames, barrels or cylinders are made of. Of course I wouldn't case color a cylinder or barrel.I know that every action has an equal opposite reaction and that the balls fired out of some of the revolvers have about 200 + footpounds of energy at the muzzleso that is what would wack the recoil shield of the frame when a cylinder moves in the opposite direction of the lead ball. I've never read anything about drawing back after casehardening a frame and maybe I should inquire somewhere as to whether or not that is done. If I was to re-caseharden a shotgun reciever to restore an antique I guess I should know how to draw back and temper that after the hardening.Wonder if the metal should be drawn back and softened before casehardening on metal that was casehardened by,say, Remington when the gun was originally done? I hve only had experience re-case hardening hammers and triggers after doing trigger jobs and use Kasninet and just hold the parts red for about 20 min. while buried in the compound.That supposedly leaves the mild steel relatively soft inside and leaves a glass hard carboned surface. I have done some of my own personal guns and others and have had no complaints and my personnal guns have been working with hardly any visible wear to the hammers and triggers for over 15 years.I made the mistake of doing my first trigger job without rehardening with the Kasinet compound and the parts wore "real" fast.Anyhow is there anyway that you metal working people can tell me how to check the hardness degree of the frame metal of the cap&ball revolvers after they are casehardened to check for over-brittleness just in case the mild steel they are made of does get too brittle? Life is full of mysteries and I sometimes solve some of them by asking dumb guestions. ha ha ha Hey, you blacksmith guys are cool. Maybe I'll use this web site to learn to make some kind of a forge to use in the casehardening I wish to learn to do. Thanks guys for any imput you may offer.I'm older now,55,and never did believe that old saying that states,"you can't teach an old dog new tricks". I imagine that if I were to try to make my own furniture for the rifles(muzzleloader) I build that I could get started doing some basic blacksmithing by reading here and learning from you guys and gals. See ya!
   Wayne - Saturday, 03/05/05 11:52:28 EST

I recently obtained a piece of I beam that is 18 inches long and 12 inches high. It weighs about 60lbs. I was thinking it may make a good anvil if I added some more material to the top and maybe some more to the center for support. I was curious what anyone else thought about that.

Thanks, Bob
   - Bob - Saturday, 03/05/05 12:05:55 EST


Add som slabs of at least 1/2" steel to the web, all the way from the base to the top to stiffen the web. Other wise, it will bounce all over the place when you are working. A piece of 1.5" for the top would help a great deal.

For that matter, I use pieces of 1.5" mild steel for bench anvils, and they work fine. I've got at least three of them scattered around, as well as numerous small pieces that get used for different things.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/05/05 12:16:13 EST

With all do respect sir: I asked how high from the ground to the face of the anvil should it be. So that you could work the iron comfortability. I believe you ansewered someone elses questin,not mine. as far as securing it,that has already been established,it will be completely portable. I live among thieves. My post was on 3/4/05 @ 1725:33 EST.

   Clif - Saturday, 03/05/05 14:40:14 EST

Sorry Mr.Guru & vicopper. Your point is well taken. I did not mean my original question as I wrote it. Will be more careful. I have tried to contrubute monies to this site by have really not been able to join. If anyone has a great deal of experience using a tire shrinker to make all the different styles and tpyes of sttel tires I would appreciate any route of knowledge they can offer. My question is broad and no one need to feel to write me a book...just some good direction will be appreciated. Thank You in advance. Again Mr. Gurr and vicopper I am Sorry. i must of had a bad day does not make it right.
   felloffapony - Saturday, 03/05/05 14:47:04 EST


Jim G and Thomas P gave you their opinions on anvil height, if you scroll above. I have mine at the usually suggested height of where your big knuckles connect to your metacarpals when you're standing naturally with arms down. It works for me. When forging, I try to keep my back fairly straight, bending forward from the butt, instead of bowing my back.

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/05/05 14:48:49 EST

anvil height
Some people stand with their arms straight untill the knuckes touch the face. Others hold aarm straight down with a hammer out 90 degrees untill that just touches the face. Then some of us old people make it much higher so we are not bent over, though it is hard to sledge out heavy work with a proper swing. Works just fine for the light stuff.
   felloffapony - Saturday, 03/05/05 14:51:37 EST

Anvil Height: Clif, Generally about knuckle height with your arm relaxed and fist closed. For small work some folks like a slightly higher anvil. . . . Clif, this question was answered at least twice above.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/05 14:55:55 EST


I have a neat source here on traditional forged style screws. I know some of you already must know about them. Since the square bolt question came up- I thought I would offer this info as well


Sebastian Chippinghammer: I am sorry too. We are fine.
Guru: Also I am sorry...I think we all had a bad days yesterday ans should go forward.

   hammersignals - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:12:02 EST


Again, "no" to your original query. It seems to me though, that I saw or heard somewhere that a "buckling" or "kink" was put into the tire BEFORE it went to the shrinker. I envision a half round or quarter round "bump" raised toward the inside of the tire by hammering either side of a fuller or either side of a rod laid on the anvil. Then, when heated and clamped, the area of upset was already in place and isolated by the shrinker jaws.

Wayne, For everyday case hardening, the old timers used organic, carbonous materials such as ground charcoal, ground charred bone, ground charred leather, ground charred horns, ground charred hooves. The pot would be held at heat for about 5 hours. If the casing pot is red hot, then the parts inside you hope will be red hot. It's at a red heat that the carbon wants to enter the steel. I see no reason to draw or temper the pieces after they have been dumped from the pot into the slack water. The case is measured in thousandths of an inch.

The man that told me about the red and blue colors said that when the casing pot was ready, he would get a couple of buddies for helpers and would buy a case of beer. In a coal forge, they would take turns keeping the pot red hot by refreshing the fuel and giving the blower a few cranks, all the while consuming beer and shooting the breeze.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:16:42 EST

Sir: I have a pedestal bending and rolling machine. In other words it will roll flat mild steel into circles or rings. I am looking for some one who can tell me where I might go to find rollers that will let me roll 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" round mild steel into rings.Would you by chance know who I might contact? I really hate going to a machine shop and have 6 rollers made at $ 65.00 an hour.
   Clif - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:28:43 EST

Charcoal Confusion: There is charcoal and there is charcoal. On many of these questions it is much better to refer folks to our FAQ's page instead of responding in triplicate and often incorrectly.

Charcoal is wood that has had the volitiles cooked out of it resulting in mostly carbon. It was THE fuel of choice for many applications including making steel for thousands of years.

The advantages of charcoal are it burns clean AND it is possible to make your own. Making large quantities of charcoal is not a small task and is something to study before jumping into it. When you compare the price between coal and charcoal the price per pound is roughly the same in BTU's. Just remember that charcoal is less than half as dense as coal (takes over twice by volume to do the same job).

Charcoal Briquetts are a mixture of sawdust, charcoal, bituminous coal and cornstarch glue. The sawdust reduces costs and adds flavor, the coal keeps it burning. They work OK in charcoal grills but are too high of ash content and too low a BTU for use in a blown forge. People HAVE used them but they are a mess and expensive for the amount of BTU's produced.

When you burn raw wood in a forge (it has been done) the wood converts to charcoal and the coaled center makes the heat. There is a lot of ash, smoke and flame in the process and it was discovered many thousands of years ago that you should make the charcoal as a seperate operation. Not doing so is ignoring milenia of standard practice.

Our FAQ on coal and charcoal has instructions for make charcoal several ways. In our current news covering Costa Rica there are photos of a modern day coaling pit operated the same way they have been operated for thousands of years.

The problem with charcoal as a fuel is that it is no easier to obtain than good coal. It is distributed through resturant suppliers. Ordering it and paying shiping is no less inconvienent than buying coal from the Kaynes or Centaur Forge. Be careful to note that resturant suppliers sell BOTH real charcoal and charcoal briquettes.

Many books on using charcoal claim hardwood charcoal is best. However, in use softwood charcoal is best. Hardwood charcoal is denser and thus lasts a little longer. However, it makes a constant rain of sparks (fleas) that burn the cloths and the skin. Softwood charcoal burns nearly as hot but does not produce the constant explosions of sparks that hardwood coal does and thus is much easier to work with.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:35:38 EST

rolling machine
Maybe this company can help. www.shopoutfitters.com/RingRolling
   felloffapony - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:36:45 EST

Tire Shrinker
Thanks Mr. Turley
   felloffapony - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:39:26 EST

Tire Shrinking
I think the putting the "bump" or "kink" in the tire was for early, or homemade shrinks that didn't have movable jaws.
Most of the shrinks have movable jaws that move towards each other once the tire has been clamped in it. I have a couple lighter shrinks (properly known as upsetters) and one nice heavy gear driven mass of cast iron that must weigh close to 300 lbs. I've found for me, that just to make the tire a bit smaller using the shrinker is the fastest way for me. But there is no wrong way to do a job.
And I haven't just read this in a book, I've had my Wheelwright certificate since 1992.
   JimG - Saturday, 03/05/05 15:58:44 EST

But ya know, kinking it like Mr Turley says, putting it in the shrink, clamping and then pounding it flat would save a lot of grunting on the jaws since the tire has a tendency to buckle up anyway.

There is no wrong way to do a job.
   JimG - Saturday, 03/05/05 16:02:08 EST

Rollers: Clif, You have three choices with machines of this sort, #1 the OEM (good luck if an import), #2 Make them yourself (there is a reason I tell folks that EVERY metal working shop should have a lathe). #3 The machine shop you are trying to avoid.

A good competitive job shop will make these parts at the same cost as doing it yourself and be competitve with a domestic OEM as well. The trick to getting affordable parts from a small machine shop is to know how to detail parts. If you take the time to define proper tolerances that are as loose as possible then you will have reduced the cost of the parts. However, if you provide a drawing with three place dimensions where fractional will do than you can end up paying triple for precision that is unneeded. This is also one of those places where it pays to have a first class set of dial calipers to measure the existing parts. If the machine shop has to do the measuring they will be charging for that time as well.

I suspect you can get the two small diemeters into one roll but the 1/2" will need to be in a seperate roll. On common slip rolls that have grooves for rolling wire and small rounds there is often on one or two grooved rolls. The grooves help keep the rings straight and prevent making flats on the surface. If you want absolutely no flats on surfaces then you will need grooves in all three rolls.

The only rolls that could be expensive to make are those that might have keyways and even then a good shop will only take a couple minutes to make a standard keyway.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/05 16:04:33 EST

Finding Info: Start on our FAQ's page, Then check the 21st Century page and then the iForge page. Many of the articles are cross linked and will take you from one to another covering the same subject. Most subjects are fairly well covered, however there are always more questions.

Yes, we need a master index. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/05 16:16:13 EST

Color Case Hardening: The description I give in the FAQ on case hardening is from the ONE reference I found on the subject (accidentaly) after a 20 year search. I started researching blacksmithing and metalworking techniques when I was 12 years old looking for the answer to this very question. By the time I found the answer I was no longer interested in the process. However, it started me on a lifetime of reading technical and scientific manuals. . . .

If you spend any time thinking about it you will realize that the details of the process are highly proprietary since only a few few companies still do it and all the equipment is 100% custom built. The basics are dead simple. Standard case hardening of clean parts, dump directly into aereated water. Now the trick IS, how much air? The air softens the quench and makes the colors. Do we want 50% air/water of 90% air/water. I suspect that to get good brilliant colors you want a high level of air and little water (my guess).

Now. . like many proprietary processes the only "secret" is the exact proportion or balance to get the best results. If you want it, then you need to WORK for it, do the imperical shop R&D. Then you can choose to publish the "secret" or not.

IF I were doing this R&D I would prepare a couple dozen sample parts and maybe 3 or 4 case hardening boxes. I would build my qenching tank with a punched hole screen in the bottom and an air "grate" below. I would attach the air to a valve and regulator to control the air/water density. I would also measure and record the water temperature. Then I would quench a batch of parts, increase the air and quench another. As soon as I could see a trend I would continue (more or less air) until I got the best results or went a step two far. Other variables could be the screen hole size/pitch and depth of the bath, pure, salt or nitrate bath?

It should take no more than a day or two of concerted R&D effort to know what produces good consistant results. However, over time you might want to test the other variables above on small parts and large parts finding the best operating parameters for different size parts.

This is one of those many things I would love to do as an anvilfire R&D project provided I had time to actually get into the shop once in a while. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/05 16:48:34 EST

Jerry, Cute little forge. Its all the plumbing bits and pieces that are surprizingly expensive.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/05/05 16:52:16 EST

Guru - I don't recall what that manifold cost me but it works like a ding-dong. I can turn both burners off and still have a small flame going for instant relights. I'm having trouble aiming the burners though. Now they pointing right at the edge of the ceramic floor and the wall instead of directing the flame at the center of the floor where most work will lay. Not sure what I'm going to do about that as there are only three set screws holding the burner in and the angle of the dangle is welded in place.
   Jerry Crawford - Saturday, 03/05/05 17:50:20 EST

Guru- you going to be at Oak Hill ironworks on the 19th
   - ptpiddler - Saturday, 03/05/05 18:05:35 EST

Well it seems like trying to make charcoal from wood is a hard, long and dirty process? I think I'll just try and buy some coal then!
And about charcoal, I'd rather just buy coal because it seems to last longer and not give out emissions like charcoal does.
One last thing is it seems to me that everyone who is interested in blacksmithing is a cowboy or farmer or redneck? No offence to any of you it just seems like all the smithy's are of old cowboy type folk. I just am not a cowboy or anything, I'm a guy who likes the electronics of today and the past of yesterday.

Matt H (23 year old)
   Matt Hunter - Saturday, 03/05/05 18:21:57 EST

Thanks PawPaw, I will give that a try and let you know how it turns out!
   - Bob - Saturday, 03/05/05 18:57:02 EST

Check out Ries' posting on the hammer in on what types of people are smiths. (Saturday, 03/05/05 13:28:31 EST)
And I'm smiling when I say this,
The "smithy" is the place where the smith does his work.
Think of the smithy to the smith, as the kitchen is to the cook.
   JimG - Saturday, 03/05/05 19:07:56 EST

Does anybody know where I can find the regulations that permit 20# Propane bottles for industrial use only to be filled without an OPD valve?
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/05/05 19:21:35 EST


It was not a matter of reading 3 mothns of posts, it was a matter of scrolling to the top of the page. There is usually less than a week of posts in this forum, although this week there have been more since the guru has been sick with the flu.

Without meaning to make you angry, I find your attitude to indicate a bit of a chip on your shoulder. That's not really necessary here on anvilfire, although we all (me most certainly included) suffer from the ailment at times. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/05/05 19:27:50 EST

pawpaw- at the refill stations--it is on their sheet of regulation- exempt from new valve if used for welding or cutting
   - ptpiddler - Saturday, 03/05/05 20:27:13 EST

My initial enthusiasm had been slightly dampened down by poor results of the forge. After a good period of time (10 minutes or so)- the piece of wrought never got hot enough to work.


I elevated the piece on a kiln brick so it was right at the tip of the blue envelope but that didn't seem to help. My gas perssure is about 5PSI

   Jerry Crawford - Saturday, 03/05/05 20:27:30 EST

Jerry Crawford: Somewhat out of my field here, but it looks from the flame like you are gas rich. Also, 5 pounds of pressure (forum has taught me not to say psi here) is on the low side. Speculating it is an atmospheric forge. Thus, try a higher pressure and play with the air inlet.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/05/05 21:21:12 EST

jerry crawford,
i have a propane forge and i find that only 5 psi will give me a dark orange however my forge is considerably smaller then yours.i find to get it too a nice bright orange i need about 30-40psi and for wielding i crank it all the way to max(about 55psi)and wait 5-10mins.now u might be able to get away with 5 psi once you have your forge good and hot by turning up the pressure to the max. this will make it hot throughout the forge, then drop it to whatever psi u need to sastain it, for me thats about 35 psi. Just my $0.02. John S
   John S - Saturday, 03/05/05 21:23:26 EST

I'm asking on behalf of my brother who was wondering if you know any places in Alberta(Canada)that he can get information on education or apprenticeship in blacksmithing.
   Deanne - Saturday, 03/05/05 21:44:09 EST


Thank you.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/05/05 21:58:55 EST

Charcoal gives out "emissions" compared to coal??? Sorry charcoal is one of the cleanest burning fuels. Coal, even good smithing coal puts out nasty smoke full of coal tars and sulfur---we refer to it as "Black booger time" when forging with coal. I do not believe there is a single compound that charcoal puts out that's not in coal smoke.

As for stereotypes---you don't have to be a rocket scientist to be a blacksmith---but I can name 3 off the top of my head who are/were...

Yes we have farmers and cowboys but we also have metallurgists working in steel plants and bit herders (computer sci folk) as well. I work surround by folks with doctorates in astrophysics as a bit herder for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory; but I don't forget my roots most of my kinfolk are farmers and rodeo'ers. Shoot my father is the first one in the family who finished high school, (course he went on to college and then worked in R&D for Bell Labs and did work for NASA...) I worked in the oil patch babysitting oil wells till the crash of '83 and have worked on the assembly line after that put me back on the street till I changed carrers got another degree and started getting fat in front of a screen...

Others that hang around here are cops, retired military---and some not so retired. Lets see at least one does taxes so you might say you are sitting down with a whole range of sinners and tax collectors---that's what gives the advice such a wide range!

Storm just blew in gotta drop the line quick!

   Thomas P - Saturday, 03/05/05 22:05:55 EST

Although there is no apprenticeship program here, there are a number of courses offered in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding area. Check with the Western Canadian Blacksmith's Guild at www.wcbg.org for a list of courses.
Your brother can also attend one of the Guild meetings. Visitors are always welcome. Just contact one of the members listed on the website.
   - Don Sinclaire - Saturday, 03/05/05 22:36:29 EST

The Western Canadian Blacksmiths Guild website is at www.wcbg.org/
Check on the executive page for contacts. There are very active chapters in Edmonton, Calgary, and Lloydminster.
This answer brought to you by the letters C,S,I and the colour blue
   JimG - Saturday, 03/05/05 22:36:33 EST

Can castiron be brazed and make two seperate pieces one?
   erich j Kronlachner - Saturday, 03/05/05 22:51:22 EST

I've got a busted castiron hinge and love to know if it could be repaired. by brazing. If it works it could save me all the work of having to make a reproduction of it. I have to have it. They have not made a castiron hinge in 40 years. Nothing like that will be on the market or the wreckers.
   erich j Kronlachner - Saturday, 03/05/05 23:00:04 EST

hey guys,
ive been doing blacksmithing for about 2-3 months now and its been great so far. now the time has come to get more metal.so the question is where do you all get yours? junkyards?hardware stories?on-line? can you guys help me out here. sevral sugestions wellcome. thanks and sorry about my spelling, dont know how i ever made it past 6 grade sometimes...John S
   John S - Saturday, 03/05/05 23:13:27 EST

Jerry: It typically takes a little while to learn how to get the forge running properly - especially venturi burners.

You are heating iron? but the forge doesnt look hot at all! First get the forge up to temp and THEN introduce the work. The iron gets heated by radiant heat from the walls. The walls should be at least lemon yellow - butter would be better :) I would expect to have to run that forge with one burner at about 25 psi for at least 20 mins to get to working temp. Should sound like a jet engine. That looks like a very big window for a forge that size - stack fire brick infront of it about 1/2" away so that the gas can vent.
   adam - Saturday, 03/05/05 23:59:58 EST

Jerry Crawford,

I don't know what your forge volume is, vut the picture of the one burner looks like it is running a bit lean, to me. That means it is sucking in too much extra air which is cooling the flame. Try choking it a bit and see if that doesn't make the flame a bit larger and hat the forge more. I wouldn't worry about aiming the burners; when they're working correctly, they'll get the whole chamber up to a nice even high heat. Of course this takes some time. The forge will need to run for at least ten or fifteen minutes, maybe more, to get up to heat. After it is up to heat, you can use the on/off burner valve to save gas, but you MUST get the forge fully hot first. Thermal mass makes a big difference.

Also, I notice that you are using kiln shelf for a floor, so I'm guess ing at the size based on that shelf being 1" thick. If I'm correct, then two burners should get it hot enough to weld, when adjusted correctly. As someone else said, you will probably need to raise the pressure considerable if you are using naturally aspirated burners. If the burners use a blower, then you may just need more gas.

Can you post some more pictures of the forge? I can't tell if it has a door or not. A soft firebrick or two to close down that gaping fron end will raise the chamber temperature considerably. A certain amount of back-pressure is a good thing, as it slows the flame velocity in the chamber, allowing it to burn completely. With no door, there won't be enough back-pressure, I don't think.

I hope this helps.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/06/05 00:00:38 EST


Yes, you can braze a cast iron hinge. It will not be quite as strong as the original, probably, but it should be okay. Cast iron can also be repaired by welding with a nickel electrode, but I recommend brazing.

John S,

I buy my steel from a steel supplier. Or a scrap place. I never buy from the hardware or online, as hardware stores are very expensive and don't usually carry full 20' or 24' sticks. The shipping on online buying would kill me as I live in the Caribbean.

For spelling correction: You can write your post in Word or WordPerfect, use the spell check function, then copy and paste into the post window here. I try to do it that way on long-winded posts, so I don't have too many errors. But we are all used to poor typing and some creative spelling here. No problem.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/06/05 00:07:40 EST

John S,

I have two regular sources for my metal. The first is the local metal scrap yard. They have miles of almost any type of stock you can imagine laying about (last time I was there, a pile of 1/2" square 20ft lengths, taller than my truck!) and at $0.27 per pound, it's hard to beat the price.

The other source is my local garbage dump. It's not a great source if you need a regular supply, but I've gotten friendly with the guys working there and they save back anything they think I might be interested in, and let me dig for the rest. It still amazes me that folks would throw away a perfectly good piece of steel! (grin) Besides, nothing is more entertaining that the look on my wife's face when I run the garbage to the dump and return with a larger load than I left with. ;-)

Happy hunting,
   eander4 - Sunday, 03/06/05 00:29:41 EST

I'm fortunate; my wife is almost as dedicated a dumpster-diver as I am. She understands me. Frightening thought, huh? (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/06/05 00:33:58 EST

ERIC If you are familiar with brazing, it is not a problem to braze cast iron. Grind the cracks back and pre-heat the cast well away from your weld.

JOHN> What type metal or you looking for. General black smithing?? I make knives, along with simple stuff. I have been going to the scrap processors and buying some really nice stuff. Picked up ten sticks of 1/2" square hot rolled for a little over $9.00 a stick. They have some real keen-junk, from time to time.
For knife steel the farm tractor dealers have a lot of shafts and such out of JOHN DEERE tractor rear-ends(the lift shaft) is 5160. AUTO or TRUCK Springs from the junk-yards are either 1095 or 5160.

   - sandpile - Sunday, 03/06/05 00:43:44 EST

welding cast iron
you can use a ni-rod as mentioned by vicopper or a real cast iron rod. It is a square rod that is cast iron composition. It puddles in to form new cast.

Pre-heat the piece to take the chill and moisture out or even red hot. Weld it and put it in something like a temper oven and let it cool very slowely over maybe 24 hours.
   felloffapony - Sunday, 03/06/05 01:45:26 EST

First of all I want to say I'm sorry if I appear to have a chip on my shoulder. I just got off the phone with a supplier that sent me 1 item out of 7 I ordered that day. She couldn't even give me a tracking # so I might find out where an when I could expect my order. I have a client who wants me to rebuild the seats in his WWII fighter. Looseing this client could devastate my reputation an not to mention lose an awful lot of money. These aircraft are show planes and my name is all over those seats. Excuses don't feed the Bulldog or make for happy clients,especially when they pay you to deliver on time. I know better than talk business when I'm upset. I was just trying to get answers so I could be ready when the rest of my order arrived.

Deep Regrets,
   Clif - Sunday, 03/06/05 01:46:34 EST


That makes things more understandable, and any of us would be upset by that situation. Sounds to me like a change of suppliers might be in order.
   Paw Paw - Sunday, 03/06/05 07:40:06 EST

John S. My primary source is a scrapyard which charges $.25 lb for scrap iron and $1.00 lb for aluminum and stainless. They also carry new stock and usually waive any cutting charge so I can fit it on top of the truck. My other source in primarily a combination fabricator (precision cutting) and supplier to machine shops. However, they sell retail and welcome small orders with no minimum or cutting charge (within reason). Their attitude is sometimes small order customers turn into big order customers. Most of the steel suppliers I called don't sell in small quantities or to non-commercial accounts.

Check in your local area at welding shops. One may be willing to sell you some of their stock, or allow you to place an order to be delivered with their next stocking. Hardware stores and auto parts places usually have lengths of 4' or less at goodly prices. For them it would likely be a low demand item. Since I have a variety of stock sizes on hand I placed a classified ad in the local small town newspaper offering it by the foot. Two calls, no sales. (I do buy my black pipe through a local plumbing supplier though.)

I have occasionally seen wrought iron sold on the Internet. Either on-line or via mail order may be your only realistic source of some speciality metals, such as tool steel or for knife blades.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/06/05 08:10:45 EST

Matt, I handle the membership of the New England Blacksmiths, so I get to see what people do for a living. With about 400 members, we have no cowboys and the only farmers are mostly home gardeners. We have doctors, lawyers, engineers (me), veterinarians, and lots of retirees. Quite a few in the metal trades, such as machinists, weldors and fabricators. A lot of farriers, too. I suppose that's as close to a cowboy as we get.

Don't know about punk rockers, though, although I hear everything from classical to heavy metal (the music kind) in the different shops I've visited.
   - Marc - Sunday, 03/06/05 08:47:45 EST

Off comment on music: Nol Putnam was the demonstrator at an IBA conference shortly after he finished installing his grill at the Washington National Catheral. He said he played classical music in his shop on the theory "If you listen to good music you do good work. If you listen to 'sh***y' music you do 'sh***y' work". He also said it seemed to impress clients who visited the shop.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/06/05 09:29:39 EST

GURU I am in the process of modifying a set of rocker arms for my harley davidson motor I want to cut the arms off the shafts (sae 1064#) and weld on the new arm-cold roll,1020#? to the shaft-the new arm will have a roller tip
for better valve action--does the over all process have to be heat treated or annealed? what should I do?
   DAVE - Sunday, 03/06/05 11:01:31 EST

Adam & vicopper

FWIW, the volume of the Red forge is approx 537 cuin. I put in approx 150 cuin of kiln flooring to reduce the free volume some, and I can add some kiln bricks to the back end under the rear burner to reduce even more. My immediate question is doesn't all that mass take time to come up to heat? Also. My chokes are open because I'm at 5K+ altitude in Colorado and I'm trying to suck in as much air as possible.

I appreciate all the help folks, Once I have the forge operating I can move on to phase II of this learing curve: The McDonald Roller Mill
   Jerry Crawford - Sunday, 03/06/05 12:11:16 EST

Wayne, the only way I can think of to determine if the steel in your frames is too brittle is to tyr something like a rockwell test on it. The thin case will deform if the underlying mild steel is still soft.

The problem is, you can't really draw it back enough if it's too hard without losing the color you were after in the first place. My earlier suggestion of 350 degrees F is a very mild stress relief at best. The colors you get from color case hardening are just surface oxides, and will go away if heated above 400 degrees F or so.

To answer your question about a metal's hardenability being tied to its carbon content, the short answer is yes, that's the secret of steel in a nutshell: more carbon equals more hardenability, up to a point. The long answer is more complicated, but worth looking up. If you are going to be doing work on potential safety hazards, you really need to understand heat treatment. Quenchcrack has written the best description of the process for the average smith I've read, but I don't have the link at hand right off the bat. Maybe he'll post it, hint hint! Good luck on figuring out what steel those Italian revolvers use. It's usually soft stuff, but you never know. Use good sense and be careful!
   Alan-L - Sunday, 03/06/05 12:34:57 EST

ODP Valve Exemption: As this is not clearly defined in the regs (I thought I had a FAQ on it with links.. .) the interpretation varries from state to state and filling station to filling station. I had one place tell me the exemption only "applied to the horizontaly mounted aluminium cylinders used on fork trucks. . ." this is NOT what the regulation says.

I wrote to and asked the governing body that wrote the reg to clarify it and only got a regurgitation of the fuzzy regulation.

All you can do is go to a filling station and if they fill your cylinder, FINE, if not. . . then tough. Without going to Federal court you will not be able to argue the point to any satifaction.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/05 12:39:54 EST

Engine Parts: DAVE, I suspect you are in way over your head. When doing this kind of work you need most of the OEM engineering specs OR know how to reverse engineer the parts (metallurgical testing, physical testing) and be able to afford the lab time.

Yes ALL the parts in this kind of application are heat treated. However, heat treated can mean anything from dead soft to rock hard as well as surface hardened and local tempers. The method of heat treatment is determined by the person that engineers the parts.

Rollers in this kind of application are generally made of bearing steels carefully heat treated and precision ground. These steels usualy require accurately temperature controlled furnaces often with timer contols to ramp temperateratures up and down.

I seriously doubt that you will be sucessful replacing a high carbon high hardenability steel with a low carbon steel generaly not considered hardenable. Even in the annealed condition the high carbon steel is much stronger (stiffer, harder) than its low carbon cousin.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/05 12:51:54 EST

Does anyone know of the W.T. &F. Co.? I have been gifted one of their leg vise and was wanting to know about them. Is it American or English?
   Daniel - Sunday, 03/06/05 13:05:25 EST

Forge Adjustment: Jerry, I am missing a lot of details of your forge. Yes, the more mass the longer the forge takes to heat up and the less efficient it will be in general. This is more true in small forges than in large forges. Large forges tend to have the necessary overkill to bring a massive body up to heat when small forges are often just cabable of doing the job.

IS your forge kaowool lined or solid castable? It makes a big difference in heatup time. Especially with small burners. Could take almost an hour for a solid furnace to achieve full heat.

"More air". At altitude the problem is not getting MORE air, it is still getting the right ratio with the fuel. At altitude the probelm would be having a big enough burner due to the lower opperating efficiency. The correct balance is the same at high or low altitude.

I see sliding chokes that are near fully closed. Not open. Slide them open at least 75% then crank up the fuel until you get a good roar. Once things are roaring you can adjust one thing at a time to get the best efficiency. These are SMALL burners, I would go for more open than shut down in this application.

"Pressure" is relative. Many small inexpensive guages are highly inaccurate and the difference between 10 PSI and 30 PSI may not be distinguisable. It is worse with old hardware. THEN there is the question of where in the line the gauge is located and how much pressure drop (relative to hose diameter and length). Pressure settings on regulators are mearly a reference point for YOUR specific setup. Right now the relatively pricey welding regulator and guage I bought for my propane forge reads "0" when putting out more than enough gas for my little melting furnace. . . I suspect it is more like 7 PSI. Crank your pressure UP to whatever it takes.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/05 13:16:28 EST

Steel Supplies: We all almost universaly started with scrap but then rapidly learn that it is best to purchase NEW steel that is of known specs in the RIGHT SIZE. Starting with the right size stock is a huge time and energy saver and is almost always worth the trip to buy a new piece of material even if you only need 10% it today.

New structural steel grades and a FEW alloy grades are best bought from your closest "Steel Service Center". These folks stock every size and have plate shears as well as flame cutting tables for the really heavy stuff. Be prepared to open an account or pay significant minimums. These are INDUSTRIAL suppliers not K-Mart.

Tool steels are bought at speciality steel houses, machine shop suppliers and often on-line. Most steel service centers do not deal in anything more exotic than SAE 4140 or SAE 1050.

When dealing with scrap ALL Junkyard Steel Rules apply (see our FAQ's page).
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/05 13:30:32 EST

WHO are BLACKSMITHS? In general I have found that most of our membership and regulars on anvilfire are highly educated professionals. We have doctors, lawyers, accountants, computer programmers, LOTS of engineers. . . Many are educated in Art, History and languages. More have written books (or could) than not. More are college educated than not. Those that are not are usualy more than bright enough to have masters in their fields.

The only "cowboys" I know are folks from Texas and the Southwest that most Easterners would mistake as cowboys because they wear a Stetson and western boots. . . and maybe EVEN ride a horse, but are plant engineers, machinists, welders, artists. . . smiths.

Of those doctors I mentioned at least one manufacturers specialty surgical tools. Forges them from stainless and heat treats them. . . . If I had a choice of surgeons THIS would be my kind of guy!

Research Metallurgists all have to have some blacksmith in them because the current state of the art is to make an alloy, heat it and beat it. . . then pull it apart. .

Even though blacksmithing is a physical job it also requires lots of thought and is NOT a job for the dull witted. When we need serious brute force we have machines for that. . . invented by blacksmiths!
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/05 13:49:54 EST

Guru: Thank You very much!! I got your email.
   burntforge - Sunday, 03/06/05 13:51:23 EST

Bounced Mail:

ALL - please note that due to the flood of SPAM I have had to change my e-mail addresses. Many places on anvilfire still have my old addresses. However, mail from the forums and contact forms all works (thousands of places. . .).
   - guru - Sunday, 03/06/05 14:04:24 EST

Jerry/Forge: I no longer use a venturi burner but I used to run a single burner, Ron Reil type forge, very similar to yours and I am at 7000' feet. At that altitude I found that I needed a slightly smaller jet - a #60 drill instead of the usual #58. As Jock mentioned as the altitude goes up, tuning the burner gets fussier and the "sweet spot" is much tighter. Also with a venturi burner the tuning changes every time you move firebricks around in front of the opening or even when you insert a large piece of steel. For berst results you just have to pay attention to this and fiddle with the mixture frequently. I find it difficult to judge mixture from peering into the chamber - especially when the forge gets hot. My method is to look at the forge from the side so that I can see the dragons breath issuing from its mouth without being blinded by the light from the burn chamber. I choke back the gas until I see just a small lick of orange flame this puts me on the lean side of hot - then I increase the gas until I just see a hint of soft blue flames of unburnt propane. Somewhere in between is the sweet spot where you get max temp and min scaling - I set the gas about halfway inbetween and then make small adjustments depending on how much scale I see on the work. Any method you use will take experience and practice and every time you start with a new forge it will take a bit to get dialed in. This is fire management for gassers - dont feel bad - coal forges are even more demanding this way.

Yes it takes a while for every thing to come up to temp. Typically 20 - 40 mins in my experience. Although if you ran both burners pedal to the metal you might get there a lot sooner.

The window is just way too big - this design of forge typically runs with a front door that has a 2" or 3" dia opening. I doubt you can get up to temp or even stay at forging temp with the front of the chamber completely open like that. If you did succeed you would consume gas at a ferocious rate. Stack up fire brick in front so that the gas can flow out but the radiant heat is reflected back ( I use a 1/2" gap)- leave an aperture in the middle so that you can get the work in and out and put a fire brick in front of that too until you are ready to put the work in. I rearrange the bricks while they are hot depending on the work. You can do this with welding mitts if you are quick. A stack of bricks is not as tidy as a special door but it is the most versatile IMO.

Dont put the work in the forge prematurely - it will just sit there and scale away. Even with the best tuning a forge is not a kind environment to steel and the work should be in there for as short a time as possible. Also thats a big chunk of steel - the forge will do it once it's tuned but in the meantime I suggest a piece of 1/2" rod or similar.

I strong recommend that you stack fire brick up to make a "porch" in front of the mouth. then a couple of half bricks set on edge on the porch will make an easily adjustable pair of doors. A lot of work gets done at the mouth of the forge and big pieces can be set sideways across the mouth inside the brick doors. With this setup I find that can move the bricks w/o gloves by gripping only their backs and being darn quick. Sure I do the "Hot Dance" from time to time ( there's a little song that goes with this - the chorus is "Ooch! Ouch! @$%!" You will find, when the time comes that you already know the words)

The most common mistake I see with gassers is not running them hot enough. Except for finish work, I like to run mine at welding heat and for heavy intial forming I like to see a spark or two from the end of the bar. At this temp not only is it easier to move the steel but also the way it moves is quite different from its behavior at orange.
   adam - Sunday, 03/06/05 15:05:46 EST

Metallurgy of heat treating for Blacksmiths: www.iforgeiron.com, Blueprint B 0078.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/06/05 15:52:07 EST

Thanks, Quenchcrack! QC is a professional metallurgist, guys. So is Ptree, Gavainh, and maybe a couple more?
   Alan-L - Sunday, 03/06/05 15:58:13 EST

Adam: Your last statement relates to a problem I have noticed is common among beginning blacksmiths. They don't get the metal HOT to begin with and thus wear themselves out beating on it. The SOFA groups has an expression "Scharabok Hot". Basically comes from a group gate projects where I wouldn't pull out the metal to be upset until it was almost at welding heat.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/06/05 16:07:18 EST

guru thanks for the response,I was just over a friends house--a former moldmaker,I showed him the rocker arm and we both arrived at the same conclusion.....build-up the tappet end of the arm with high strenght wire(tig weld) then slot the end with a thin cut off wheel---insert the roller and pin---weld the pin in on both sides of the pin
and there you have it! what do you think?
   DAVE - Sunday, 03/06/05 16:14:52 EST

Daniel, W.T.&F. Co. is not in my "Directory of American Toolmakers". The book is fairly complete, so that company must have slipped through the cracks when they were compiling.

Why did the cowboys all start wearing tennis shoes?

So you could tell 'em from the truck drivers.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/06/05 16:35:09 EST


   hofi - Sunday, 03/06/05 17:41:03 EST

I have an older anvil with dings on the edges...can I take my Mig welder and lay a strip or weld along the damaged edges, then grind down but leave enough material on the edge to "hammer harden" then "finish" grind to a new radius?
   vic bitter - Sunday, 03/06/05 20:17:30 EST

Daniel: Double check if the T is really an I. If so it might be the W..... Iron and Foundry Co.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/06/05 20:36:58 EST

What is the AIA? It has been mentioned as a source for anvil repair thanks!
   vic bitter - Sunday, 03/06/05 20:41:06 EST

While I am gratified that you place me in the company of the metalurgists that post here, I am a jack of all trades master of none. I have worked in Manufacturing, mostly engineering, and am now a safety and enviro guy. I did, 23 years ago take a home study course in metalurgy from the ASM. Not a metalurgist though.
Thanks for the complement.
   ptree - Sunday, 03/06/05 20:49:53 EST

Buying Steel, I am very fortunate that my local hardware store (Not a Big Box) has been selling steel for decades and will sell small lots and even cut pieces. They stock structural shapes (I and H beams, angles, channels, flats and rounds) in A36 or "mild steel". They also keep a small selection of welded seam steel tubing and some sizes of cold rolled 1018. Unfortunately the wide flats (over 6") and plates are stored outside so they are often rusty. kind of nice to have it only about five miles away. That said I used to buy most of my important stock from a steel service center that closed last year and now I'm trying to find a good replacement source for those cold rolled flats and larger bars and the klean kote tubing. The hardware store doesn't have a shear either!

Dave, Are you trying to save some money by not buying an aftermarket part that has been fully engineered and tested? If so think about the cost of the rest of the motor if the part fails. As soon as you start welding on the end of the rocker or welding in the pin you are going to screw up any heat treat. Do you have a plan on how you are going to lubricate that roller? You might want to take this one up with an experienced engine builder.

   SGensh - Sunday, 03/06/05 21:23:30 EST

Hofi Hammer

Well Uri, tell us about your hammer.
   djhammerd - Sunday, 03/06/05 22:41:37 EST

Ken "Scharabok hot" always referred to the metal with the nice fourth of July sparkler look to it when I was a member of SOFA, the MOB had a fellow whose nickname was Sparky for much the same reason.

Patrick N is a metallurgist working at a place where 10" stock is the "light" stuff at times....

If'n it has taken you this long to figure out that I am a wise ass perhaps you should not try jugging live handgrenades...

BTW I would consider a couple of folks out this way to be Cowboys or retired cowboys...

As a hobby smith I found that I was able to scrounge steel faster than I could use it. A nice ornamental iron shop used to let us clean up their scrap bin when the scrap yard started charging them by the load. What was really nice was that after a big job they would scrap most of the leftovers and sometimes they would scrap out real wrought iron when they got a job to replace stuff run-into by a car.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 03/06/05 22:44:40 EST

I am building a gas fired forge and I need to know how much it would cost retail for a 2 pices of kaowool 16 inches, by 26 inches. I want to know so I don't spend too much buying it at an auction.
   Matt - Sunday, 03/06/05 23:12:37 EST


My local garbage dump has a lot of metal but their problem at the dump is that you can't take any metal out. So you either have to do one of several things. You can either take some garbage to the dump (while hiding it in your truck) and drop it off and then rummage through the metal piles and then take some and then "hide" it in your truck, or you can just steal it, but I'm not about to break the law. I guess you could pay the dump guy some "extra" cash before you go in?
   Matt Hunter - Sunday, 03/06/05 23:20:14 EST

Just an idea-The electric heat treat furnaces where I used to work had a drip of "carbo fluid" to keep a carbon-ritch [oxygen free] atmosphere. The heat treat guy said He thought the carbo fluid was alcohol.Might this work to prevent scale and carbon loss in a gas forge?
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/06/05 23:31:59 EST

vic bitter

anvil repair
4030 tool steel mig wire

I know a few nice fellas on here have welded a great deal of anvils. I know a few ways to repair them myself. I am really not in favor of repairing one unless a large portion of the face is missing. If you just have chipping on the edges I would grind a radius and then use a flap disk on it to blend it in. You can take a huge chip out this way. The radius corner is better to work than a sharp one. I have seen dozens of anvils repaired. I have only up close seen two that were absolutley perfect when fixed by old steel mills that are no longer in business. one was a 350 lb columbian with an entire new face plate and one was a 200 lb trenton with a perfect hard alloy weld. Even if an anvil has a huge chunk out in one area. Grind a radius just in that spot and blend it in. It doesn't have to be flush with the rest of the edge. You may find it to be a very useful working surface.

If you must weld one preheat the anvil to take the chill out. You will see moisure run out of it. Use a temp stick. Make sure it never gets near 400 degrees as it will take the temper out and then need you to heat treat it. With a mig use 4030 tool steel wire. Like ken says 7018 and peen to work harden it or use an impact resitant rod with an arc welder. Put a heat sink around the anvil and let it cool very slowly for 24 hours. If you don't take the chill and moisture out and let it cool slowly it could crack if you hit it with a missed blow. If you do real heavy sledging it will absolutely crack all over. You can also get cyclic fatigue if you plug weld on a new piece of tool steel and after you temper it and make it and possibly too hard. It will get spider web cracks. I have seen many many anvils like that.

I am no expert...repair at your own risk. Some of these fella and I hope not may have a piece fly off one of those repaired anvils and hit a main artiary someday. I have seen this happen. It can kill you that fast or just hurt you good. I hope this helps.
   burntforge - Sunday, 03/06/05 23:35:09 EST

make sure you power wirebrush the anvil and degrees it before beginning any of the above repairs.
   burntforge - Sunday, 03/06/05 23:37:53 EST

anvil repair

degrease and wirebrush before the repairs. I can not spell tonight or use proper sentence structure. I made a few grammer errors in my above two posts.
   burntforge - Sunday, 03/06/05 23:42:07 EST


YOu're tallking about doing a lot of work on something that shouldn't be worked on. Rocker arms are subject to high stresses, changes of motion and sometimes high heat. They need to be engineered and manufactured by someone who truly knows what they are doing, not a backyard mechanic. Why not just pay the small amount jof money that it would cost to buy a set from one of the well-known suppliers?

Have you ever seen what the inside of a cylinder looks like when it ingests a broken piece of valve? I looks like you need to buy a new cylinder and head, that's what it looks like. Way more expensive than a set of rocker arms, even if you don't figure in the cost of the piston, rings, wrist pin, etc. I drive my Harley like a little old lady and I would NEVER put a home-brew part in the engine.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/07/05 00:23:19 EST


The Anvilfire store sells Kaowool by the foot. The proceeds from the Store help to slupport this site and all the free advice that you and others get. Why not just buy it from the Anvilfire Store and be a contributor? I doubt that if you buy it on eBay that you'll get the advice and information that you can get here.

If you want to get it here, go to the pull down menu at the upper right of your screen and click on the Store. If you just want to check the price so you can try to get it on eBay for a few cents less you can do that too, but I'm not going to do it for you. I believe in supporting this site, as you probably can tell. :-)
   vicopper - Monday, 03/07/05 00:28:36 EST

I always felt that the smith should stand so that the horn of the anvil should point to his left when he is ready to hammer. But now, a friend says, no, no, no, it should always point to the right! Which is more right, left or right?
Thanks, Will
   Will - Monday, 03/07/05 00:48:17 EST

Try both positions and use which one works best for you.
Personaly I like the horn to my hammer hand. That way when I'm using hinged tooling in the hardy hole it's not interfering with my hammer hand.
   JimG - Monday, 03/07/05 01:09:29 EST


Get a double-horned anvil and end the controversy. (grin)
   vicopper - Monday, 03/07/05 01:15:16 EST

Matt: Insulating ceramic blanket typically come in 24" wide rolls. Thus, you will have to likely buy a piece 24" x 36" to get that size.

Will: I like to use the anvil with the horn to the right (my hammer hand). I feel it gives me better control over the horn. It also keeps any sharp hardy tools well away from the hammer hand. However, as Jim G. said, go with which way is more comfortable to you.

On flying chips, also be leary of struck tools (such as punches and chisels) with extensive mushrooming.

Vic Bitter: AIA stands for Anvils in America. It is pretty well the definitive anvil reference book by Richard Postman. He has accumulated a lot of new information, particularly on English anvil manufacturers, since it was published and is working on the follow-up, to be titled More on Anvils. He also authored The Mousehole Forge on the history of the Mousehole anvil. Both are available through the forum.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/07/05 04:09:07 EST

Matt, my "transfer station" has the same rules about picking from the metal pile. I've found if I go during the week, when they're less busy, they're much more agreeable. They won't let me climb the pile, but I am normally allowed to take the low-hanging fruit.
   - Marc - Monday, 03/07/05 08:22:56 EST

Thanks Burntforge & Ken for your help...Vic
   vic bitter - Monday, 03/07/05 09:31:14 EST

Horn Direction:

My heavy main anvil (100 kilo) has the horn to the right when I'm standing at the coal forge, except when I'm using the gas forge and approach it with the horn to the left.

My 70# Mankel farrier style anvil is mounted high, for light work, with the horn to the left. This works really well for me, since the clip horn and pritchel holes are somewhat asymmetrical. As stated above, try several orientations and pick the one most comfortable for you.

Sunny and warming on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/07/05 09:35:38 EST

I make a propane forge out of a 30 lb freon bottle. Dual gas tubes from the top with a fireplace brick bottom. I have received an inquiry from France if I would combine three of these into a sword forge. Would not need to forge weld. Would have six gas tubes with three on/off values, one for the entire fire, one to turn on the middle set of tubes and one to turn on the back set of tubes. Would just cut the end off of one bottle, the front of another and both ends off of a third. Sections would be slip jointed. I don't see a problem here but wanted to run the concept by you folks.
   - Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/07/05 10:29:46 EST

Dave, why not just make a proper burner for the gas forge that lets you control the atmosphere in the forge?

The very simple blown burner propane forge I have lets you go from a ver oxidizing forge to one that is so reducing you wonder that there isn't carbon building up on the outside of the piece.

Of course if you have an aspirated burner that's not tuning well you could just throw a couple of handfulls of coke on the floor of the forge as an oxygen sink...

Kenn, the only time you need to have the entire blade up to heat is at heat treat and then getting it as even as possible is the goal why the old moving it back and forth in the forge helps. How even a heat would 3 ganged together provide?

Anytime you heat up more than you can hammer before it gets cold you are just scaling/decarbing/grain growthing the piece and sword sized stock cools *fast* on the anvil!

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/07/05 11:44:13 EST

Horn direction.

I'm right handed, and I started out hot shoeing with the horn to my left. When you're constantly turning and shaping shoes over the horn, it seems to be slightly more commodius for the arms. With the horn to the right, the arms are closer together, and it's a little more awkward. This may seem nit picky, but not really, if you're at the anvil for years.

In my early years of smithing, I tried to visit every live shop and museum shop that I could. I've been in a couple of shops where the old timer had his anvil with the horn to his right and he was right handed. I was smart enough to keep my trap shut. I didn't holler, "HEY OLD MAN, YOU HAVE THE HORN POINTING THE WRONG WAY". I figured everyone has their reasons for what they do.

JimG has his horn on the hammer hand side, as he posted. One old smith from NY state said that he had the horn to the hammer hand side, so he could keep his hardy in the hole without fear of chopping off or cutting his fingers on the hardy...which can happen if your are fatigued, not thinking, and forgot to put the hardy away.

And all this brings to mind the anvil placement in relation to the forge. Mine is at right angles to the front of the hearth, and it's to my right. On the other hand, in some older shops, I have seen them parallel to the hearth front. I tell my people that if they are forge welding rose leaves, the working center of the anvil should be 3 to 4 feet from the center of the fire. I doing moderatly sized work, about 4 to 5 feet, and if doing heavy work, 6 feet or more. I can move my anvil where I want it to be.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/07/05 11:46:46 EST

Matt, After the younng lady at my city operated Eco-cycle depot threatend me with a $1,000 fine for scavgeing, I made her a plant hanger for the side of her gate trailer. She now asks me what I'm am looking for and keeps an eye out. ;-)
   habu - Monday, 03/07/05 12:02:04 EST

I have tried to use other peoples anvil from the wrong side,Grin. I am right handed and the horn is to my left. I can reach over to start a bend, do my hammering from the top. With the horn to my right I have to start the bend from the bottom, meaning I have elbow down and my wrist rotated. In this position I have my palm more up than the back of my hand. I lose the ease of swinging the hammer.
Anybody else having problems with Hammer-In forum??

   - sandpile - Monday, 03/07/05 12:03:48 EST

Uri Hofi and horn direction:

Horn direction - When I was first started working as a smith, I left a hardy in the anvil and almost cut off the little finger of my right hand (the scar is still there). I swapped ends and now have trouble working in the "normal" way. I am not a farrier so don't turn any shoes, but I do find it much easier to use the horn for drawing leaves and similar work with the horn on my hammer hand side. When I work with the horn on the left, I sometimes accidentally hit the anvil face with the hammer handle. Horn to the right completely eliminates the problem.

I posted a note last week about seeing Uri Hofi in Marble Falls and what size hammer he was using. Turns out my info was wrong - he sent me the following email today:

1300 GR .WITH THE HANDLE 1460 GR, AND NOT 1600




His English is much better than my Hebrew...
   HWooldridg - Monday, 03/07/05 12:33:04 EST

I have this research paper, and i am comparing a katana to a claymore.
or maybe just researching katanas.
Do you know any good websites to which i can get good facts about either of these swords?

Hunter H.
   Hunter Henderson - Monday, 03/07/05 12:42:36 EST

Anvil made in sweden:

I have an old 100 pound anvil which I would like to know something about. I can read the words "SUPERIOR", "MADE IN SWEDEN", and "100 LBS". I cannot make out any other words or letters. I would like to know what material the anvil is made of such as cast steel, wrought, etc. I would also like to know how old or when these superior avils were manufactured. I cannot find anything on the web on this particular brand anvil. I use this anvil and can tell it is of very good quality with a good ring and rebound.

   Danny Boudreaux - Monday, 03/07/05 13:22:34 EST

Danny Boudreaux: AIA only shows one Swedish anvil with Superior on it and that is a SISCO (Swedish Iron and Steel Corp). Should say SISCO and SUPERIOR in a box, with SWEDEN under it. Look for a single handling hole under the heel. Swedish anvils were cast steel of normally very high quality. However, I have heard Centaur got a bad batch (soft tops) from Kohlswa and stopped carrying them.
   - Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/07/05 13:50:00 EST

Ken Scharabok: You referred to "A/A". Is this a reference I can get to on the internet, or how may I acquire this reference?

   Danny Boudreaux - Monday, 03/07/05 14:10:07 EST

AIA is Anvils in America (sorry, will start using full name). It is available in the forum store.

If you are guessing at SUPERIOR might it be Soderfors? They were another Swedish anvil brand.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/07/05 14:14:34 EST

Hunter you will find very few facts and very many opinions.

These are two rather odd swords to compare as they were designed for very different uses---like comparing a pickup truck to a minivan.

Anyway I suggest you visit the swordforum.com read the articles they have and maybe get into the forums with your questions

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/07/05 14:46:59 EST

CSI Members: Please read the minutes of the last CSI Board of Directors meeting and the proposed motion for expanding the board which are posted in the Members Business Forum and the general Members Forum. Your comments are needed and welcomed. The next meeting of the board is at 9:30 PM EST Tuesday March 8. All CSI members are welcome to observe.
   SGensh - Monday, 03/07/05 14:55:43 EST

has uri hofi posted here?? i guess it would not be difficult to find out...
   - rugg - Monday, 03/07/05 14:56:34 EST

Rugg, Yes it was. Uri ocassionaly reads anvilfire and has a number of handouts from our pages that he uses.
   - guru - Monday, 03/07/05 15:23:05 EST

Anvil Direction: As VIc pointed out double horn anvils do not give you as much chance for this argument. To make matters worse some European anvils have the square hardy hole toward the round horn. . . However #2 below still applies.

Here is what I have learned over the years.

1) Most old anvils are worn out on the side facing away from the smith, usualy by strikers hitting the corners with sledges. This is the far side with the horn to the left of a right handed smith.

2) Frank is right about being uncomfortable working with the horn toward your hammer hand. But to be more explicit consider the direction a piece bent AROUND the horn must go to remove it. If the horn is toward your hammer hand then the work moves toward your body and crotch! With the horn to the away side the work comes off AWAY from your body. This is both safer and more comfortable. It is also the historical way MOST right handed smiths have worked based on anvil wear and tear noted above.

3) Any smith that is not observant enough to see a sharp object sticking up out of their anvil and work around or remove it it has no business with a hammer in their hand. . . The position of the hardy hole is irrevelent. That said, most newbies should never leave the hardy in the anvil when it is not in use.

4) Due to finding good old anvils with wrecked edges on one side MANY modern smiths learned to use their anvils back handed so that the good edge (where most of the work gets done) would be away from them . I learned this "backwards" way THEN started rotating my anvil as I worked depending on what I was doing. I TEACH folks about using their old used anvils this way and the reason it may be right or wrong for them. It always helps to know the reason for things.

5) Every smith has a slightly different stance at the anvil. Dean Curfman likes to work with his side to the anvil. However, all his anvils have side clips on the away side so working at this anvil SHOULD be different than those without. I know others that stand directly behind the heal of the anvil and others that stand directly in front of the horn. Most practiced smiths may start in one position and end up working from every concievable position. The most important thing is to stand close to the anvil, to "take possession of it". Most newbies are scared of the hot iron and try to stand back too far.

6) Every practiced smith doing a variety of work quickly finds uses for every surface and nuance of their anvil including defects. For everyone of these there may be a prefered working position. Only the farrier or production smith that performs the exact same task day in and day out will work in only one position. Because of the location of the class or audiance instructors and demonstrators are also likely to work from one position more than any other (that is why I rotate the anvil - same position relative to the forge and audiance, different anvil position).


Although this feature has been lost from modern anvils amny old European anvils had a perfectly flat back (toward the smith). This allowed the anvil to be used on its side like a big swage block. One German design allowed the anvil to be used based down, back down and with either edge down (4 working positions).
   - guru - Monday, 03/07/05 15:28:47 EST

I was wondering if I could get some opinions on small "stump" anvils. I speak of the supposedly "transportable" relatively small blocks of steel that have a spike which is inserted into a nearby stump. I am curious whether my suspicions are warranted. To me they seem a bit small for most work and I imagine that it would be difficult to extract it from the stump if one wished to transport it somewhere else. I suppose of course, that the stump's root system could dissipate most of the shock from hammer blows and I'll bet there's a trick to retriving the anvil. Regardless, these are the kinds of questions only experience can answer.
   Matthew Marting - Monday, 03/07/05 15:40:58 EST

My anvil is slumped down quite a bit on the far edge near the horn. It's a 350#'er and that size was typically used for sledge work. But the plate is still near its original thickness and I have gotten used to it. I have thought about turning it with the horn the right (I am righty) but I would have to retrain myself. I have like Jock says come to know every subtle shape on the face and horn and I use them to advantage in my work. To date I have managed to smack everyone of my ten fingers and once, when I missed the work and the hammer rebounded fast, I smacked myself in the head with my own hammer. So far the family jewels have not been damaged.
   adam - Monday, 03/07/05 16:09:11 EST

hey guys, im gonna be making a propane forge from a plan that calls for an old air tank, was wondering if a 18 to 24 inch water resivoir tank for a well would work well? if not what diameter of vessel would be best for this work? also , was wondering if an old kerosene jet heater would work with minor modifications? not sure what the btu output/effeciency would be versus the propane one, or rather which would be cheaper to operate...
any suggestions/ideas would be gladly appreciated ...
   - jody - Monday, 03/07/05 17:39:01 EST

M&M, many of the smallest stump anvils were used for cold forging scythe blades out in the filed where they were used.

The smithing stump anvils usually have a bit more body to them and not so long a spike uou can just whomp them on the sides to encourage them to stick up enough you can stick something under them to pop them up.

I have an apx 75# "T" stake anvil that I use for Renaissance themedd demos it has a round section that fits in the stump. It started mating a bit too much at times so i drobbed a large washer down the hole and when I last had the stump it was removing by standing on the stump and tugging and wiggling the anvil---left the stump when I moved.

Using just a couple pound hammer on a well made stump anvil and I don't think the root system will ever notice the hammering going on.

Propane forge: the bigger the more gas you have to pump in to warm it up and overcome wall losses. These things typically run around 10" dia before insulating with refractory. Do you really need that size? I have 2 propane forges right now, 1 from a grain auger tube and the other from a scrapped oxy cylinder. If I need more/different space I stack fire bricks to get a forge and stick the burner(s) in that.

Never tinkered with kerosene so I'll let someone who has answer that one.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/07/05 18:07:10 EST

How were the internal holes used in a swage block?
   - John Larson - Monday, 03/07/05 18:43:52 EST

I'm right handed. I like to use the anvil with horn on my right, draw things out on the base of the horn, stand with my right side along the anvil, and use the Hofi hammer gripping advice. I'll use all parts of the anvil, but I tend to be quite comfortable doing it this way. My $0.02.
   - John Larson - Monday, 03/07/05 18:55:54 EST

I am looking for a design/pattern for different hold-downs that fit in the pritchel hole. Any & all notions,suggestions or references would be most welcome.
Thanks in advance,Chris
   Chris Hughes - Monday, 03/07/05 18:59:48 EST

Jody, getting a forge to run at 2200F or hotter is quite a trick. The design has to be right, the burner has to be right.. etc. It's much more demanding than building a low temp device like a space heater. If you go with propane, there are plenty of good designs on the web and plenty of people in this forum who can help you along when you get stuck. Kerosene would work, I am sure of it, but I havent come across a design and I dont think anyone here has experience. So you'd be mostly on your own.

Thomas gave you good advice. A 10" to 12" shell about 12" long with 2" of kaowool insulation will make a very usefull little forge. You should check out Ron Reils website before you select a design.
   adam - Monday, 03/07/05 20:19:27 EST

Heat treat furnaces: In a heat treating furnace the environment is closed and you can scavenge all the oxygen with something like alchohol or kerosene. In a forge the atmosphere is contually exchanged and you'd need a stream of scavenging compound. But you already have this in the form of propane fuel.
   adam - Monday, 03/07/05 20:25:27 EST

I generally have the anvil with the horn to the right. I hammer right handed, except when I hammer left handed.(born lefty,was "changed in the first grade)My anvil is more or less parallel to the front of the forge. I like to draw on the horn, and don't find it too hard. This is just the way I set it up, and have grown used to it.
   ptree - Monday, 03/07/05 21:43:07 EST

Thomas P & Adam--I was under [the eronious, I guess] impression that propane forges wouldn't come up to welding heat if kept ritch, and tended to scale more than coal forges. I was thinking about using an oil furnace gun to fire a forge, I have several in the scrap heap. There was some mention of such a forge in the archives, said it was 2 cu/ft. No mention of burner size. The ones I have would work between 75 & 150 thousand BTU/hour. I know where there is a significantly larger one allso. Any ideas?
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/07/05 22:11:16 EST

Flux and refractory.....
The various methods I have seen post here are all fairly good.
But they are all fairly temporary. Meaning the means of protection needs to be replaced fairly often.
But there is another way, that is longer lasting. Use a high phosphate rammable refractoy. Either to line the whole forge or make a floor plate with it. While I have not done this yet.... I have a good smithing friend in AK who lined his forge with Pyramid Super Airset about 4 or 5 years ago, and he does a fairly hefty amount of forge welding. ANd Jerry told me last time we talked that there was no sign of degradation.
   Ralph - Monday, 03/07/05 22:16:45 EST

   Gil Auth - Monday, 03/07/05 22:21:16 EST

easist way is to make a 'hardie hole' that you can place in a vice. Or use a 'stake hardy hole' and dive it into a stump.

OR you can get rid of the RR and get something else with more mass in the right location, as well of making the hardie hole as I mentioned....
   Ralph - Monday, 03/07/05 22:28:36 EST

Well.... as to tylonol, I am very allergic to it. Last time I got some acetamethaphin ( how ever you spell it... oh it is the active stuff in tylonol) it just about killed me. Each time I have taken in in some form or another has gotten worse ( started when I was about 15)
So I would consider that a fairly serious side-effect...(smile)
   Ralph - Monday, 03/07/05 22:31:12 EST

Yes Ron Reil has some very good info. ANd I know his forges do weld as I have used them once at his house and we got good welds.
   Ralph - Monday, 03/07/05 22:35:42 EST

Funny there are a lot of professional knifemakers making a living forge welding in propane forges---some at a pretty good altitude---Jim Hrisoulas for one! I have never had a scaling problem with my blown burner forge when welding.

Gil you can't even fit that press into an area that small---or you need to tell us what you will have in it and what you will be doing before we can even guess at a layout. And you don't have to YELL only some of the Texans are Deaf Smiths...

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/07/05 23:12:50 EST

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