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

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

This is an archive of posts from March 16 - 22, 2005 on the Guru's Den
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Hey a quick question:

What is a "Penny Weld"?
   timex - Wednesday, 03/16/05 01:43:42 EST

Just braught a cast iron kettle and can't get rust off the bottom.I'm in the UK.Needs to be derusted so I can season and seal it again it.Any advice?
   drew - Wednesday, 03/16/05 06:07:34 EST


A penny weld is when one takes a copper penny (newer pennies are made of zinc and copper, not so good), places it between the two parts to be welded and puts the whole thing in the forge and lets it heat up to brazing heat. It is technically a braze. Some flux may be necessary depending on the workpieces and the fire.
   T. Gold - Wednesday, 03/16/05 06:46:57 EST


Sandblast it.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/16/05 07:45:51 EST


A scrub with a Scotchbrite™ pad and a little muriatic acid will strip the rust off. Be sure to wear acid-proof rubber gloves and eye/face protection when working with acids.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/16/05 09:28:22 EST

Another method to remove rust that is not hard to do ( OK there is elbow grease involved) is to put a little clean sand in and add enough water to make a slurry and then scrub.
But if it is real deep pitting type rust sand blasting may be the answer.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 03/16/05 09:49:34 EST


Thanks you , for the info. My grand dad had mentioned it to me when I was building my bbq forge .
   timex - Wednesday, 03/16/05 10:44:45 EST

Their are several chem treatments at gun stores and hobbie stores that may be a help with the removal of rust and several body shop supply stores( auto ) have some raelly good rust converters. BUt if this pot is giong to be used for cooking you may want to just get a wire wheel ( cone style) and wire it out. Do a test rub first !! and go easy on it. You want to remove rust not the bottom of youre pot.
   timex - Wednesday, 03/16/05 10:51:21 EST

sorry for not including this in my post to DREW
Drew ,
Try putting cheep salsa in the pot and letting it set over night. The acids should eat a layer off your pot and strip the rust as well. It works on my wok pretty well and is nontoxic.( try the tres amigos brand ' hot ' )
   timex - Wednesday, 03/16/05 11:32:23 EST

Sand and Water, old Pots: This works but DOES take a lot of "elbow grease". I recommend wearing rubber gloves as the sand will wear the skin off your finger tips until you have raw nerves exposed.

If the rust is REALLY coarse then the pot may be ruined or require mechanical refinishing. Cast iron tends to rust with lots of flaking and undercuts that are impossible to clean around. In this case you need a small grinder and a soft "flap wheel". This will remove rust and polish the surface. When seasoning it helps to have a smooth surface.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 11:39:44 EST

Hi, I have what I am reasonably sure is a 100 lb. Common sense hammer. I am basing that guess on having looked once at Carl Jenning's and this one , mine, is much bigger. There is absolutely no information out there on these hammers to my knowledge. I've been slowly rebuilding it over the years and am getting there although this machine brings me to my knees with frustration at times. If you're a tinkerer, this is your dream. I would love some specs on it like arm length and spring tension for openers. I built a jackshaft for it with the motor about at the height of the bottom die. My pulley that drives the belt and machine gets so hot that my belt starts to smoke and the pulley is too hot to touch. I can't get the relationship between the treadle, idlearm and return spring adjustment right. I put a put an air brake on it and that works prety well. I am getting ready to make some dies for it as the bottom die is too low etc. How do I know what the right height is? I am on my third set of arms and I still don't know if they are right. well, that's a lot of questions, even a few answers would be much appreciated. I've thought of selling this beast and starting fresh with another hammer. I wonder what something like this is worth. O.k. I'll stop for now. Thanks, Edgar
   Edgar Haris - Wednesday, 03/16/05 11:40:59 EST

Penny Welds: Several of Bill Epps iForge demos use penny welds and the process is explained in detail. It is also described in our glossary. See Penny Weld
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 11:44:23 EST

Mike, I once put together a "beginner's kit" for about US$25 and it worked pretty well too---I used to weld up billets in the forge. A lot of it depends on what scrounging skills you have and what's available in your area.

I second Ken's advice on looking up the local smithing group; my old one used to build forges for new folk *free* on a fairly regular basis.

"Market Price" is what I dislike about e-bay as it is going for a unified price over everywhere so dealers in areas where blacksmithing equipment is common start wanting the same price as dealers where blacksmithing stuff is as rare as hen's teeth! I started running into people at the OH fleamarkets wanting CA prices for stuff cause "that's what it sells for on e-bay" my reply was "sell it on e-bay then".

This actually predates e-bay in that some dealers would see the prices in the "antique" books and want to match them often not understanding *why* a specific piece was worth a whole lot more.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/16/05 11:48:30 EST

Orpan Machinery: Edgar, This is the classic problem with orpan machinery. If all the parts are there, even broken, you have something to go by. But if parts are missing then you are forced to engineer them yourself.

Historical books (like Pounding out the Profits) and old catalogs will will have nothing more than the minimum sales information and MAYBE a good illustration. Other than that there is very little to be found on orphan machinery.

Arms and Die Height on power hammers are critical parts and dimensions. The fastest way in world to wreck a power hammer is to use too short of dies and let the ram travel too far. On most mechanical hammers the maximum down stroke is about 85% of the possible stroke (ignoring clearance problems). To properly determine these relationships is an engineering problem. You start with a true scale layout of the existing parts and draw in the moving pieces in various positions starting with crank pin and ram. Between these you layout the position of the arms with varying spring compression. They dynamics of these things are very complicated. If you want the best motion study of ANY power hammer then buy a copy of the Little Giant Bang-Tap-Blues video we sell. The principals shown allpy to all toggle link mechanical hammers.

Figuring these things out is not rocket science but it is close. Almost everything writen about these linkages is wrong. To make the layouts and determine the relationships is picky work that takes patience and lots of time. However, trying to make parts by trial and error could take a lifetime unless you were very lucky or had a very good inate engineering sense.

Value of Orpan Machine missing parts: To me, ZERO unless I happen to have one that needs the part you HAVE. However, in most cases what is broken or missing is the same on all models of any given machine.

Value of Orpan Machine with amature repairs: Also ZERO unless it can be proven that the machine works perfectly and the replacement parts are better than the original. THEN a 100 pound odd ball power hammer may be worth $1000.

There are a few of these old orphan machines that a some of the drawings for parts exist. This includes Nazel, Little Giant, Fairbanks, Beaudry, Bradley and Champion. The Little Giant drawings and patterns are fairly complete as are Bradley. The rest of the old power hammers are true orphans and at best OLD TIRED machinery or sometimes antique collectors items.

Many smiths DO make use of orphan machinery and a LOT of old machines are still in operation. However, most of those not listed above were not very good machines when new. There is also a great risk to depending on these machines as any proken part can be a significant setback. Not many people can afford the time or money re-engineering and custom making replacement parts, especialy for a machine that was not very good to start with.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 12:19:52 EST

I am an amateur welder/fabricator and would like to broaden my horizons. Comments and opinions on the Ozark School of Blacksmithing? It is only an hour and a half from my house and I am the type of person who jumps in and does something till they get it right.
   - sstreckfuss - Wednesday, 03/16/05 12:47:37 EST

The Ozark School in Potosi, MO is owned and run by Tom Clark. Tom is a first rate instructor, but there may someone else teaching the class. I believe Uri Hofi has been there. I haven't been to the school, but have spoken to some who have. All have given it very high marks.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/16/05 12:55:32 EST

Unified Pricing: Thomas' point is an important one when considering the price or value of old tools. Most of California was not settled until after the 1848 gold rush. Antiques there from the 1860's are quite rare while here in the East you commonly find mid 1800's stuff in the less exclusive antique shops and even find Colonial era stuff on ocassion.

Currently the "rust belt" from PA, OH an MI and around the Great Lakes is a treasure trove of old tools. The quantity keeps the price down largely due to competition. Last year at SOFA I looked at three blow horn stakes that were identical and all displayed withing a few feet of each other. They were priced $125, $100 and $75. The fellow with the cheapest price knew what the others were asking and wanted to MOVE it. So I took advantage of the competition and purchased it. In many other parts of the country the same stake will sell for $250. But if you want that price you ae going to need to polish it up, TRAVEL, haul them to California.

Shipping is a considerable adder to the cost of many items and can make something that is here on your very doorstep worth a lot more than something half a world away. Recently there have been some wonderful truely ANTIQUE collectable anvils for sale in England. . but by the time you get them here the deal is not so good. However, give it some time and someone with a little cash will buy a container load and ship to the US to sell. By the container the shipping per anvil would only be $10 or so. Sound far fetched? In the 1970's English furniture was being purchased and hualed to the US by the container load and sold as Colonial era American antiques. . .

Ebay anvil prices are also often CRAZY and often way overpriced. Unless you REALLY REALLY think an old anvil is better or has more value than a new one then don't get carried away on ebay. Collectors prices are a lot different than USER prices and there are a lot of people paying collectors prices for what are still common anvils. Just because you didn't find a Peter Wright in your back yard doesn't make them rare. Another reason ebay prices are often high OR LOW is that it is an AUCTION. If too many people are interested and the price is crazy then DON'T BUY. But if the seller gambled, didn't set a minimum and nobody is bidding then you may get a GREAT deal. That is life, that is what auctions are about.

Life and Auctions: Now. . here is where it gets complicated. In a real world auction if nobody is bidding then nobody is bidding. I have been the lone bidder at auctions many times. However, in an ebay auction someone can go on a forum such as ours and announce "nobody bidding on great deal" and ruin someone elses oportunity. Somehow I think this is wrong. If you want to bid, then BID. If not, then it is none of your business. If the seller wants to advertise their sale then let them advertise their sale.

If you want to do some good on ebay then warn every bidder away from the missrepresented junk Chinese anvils. . . Then go after the folks stealing from charity by selling bogus "LIVESTRONG" bracelets. . . which is not only immoral but also breaking trademark law. And ebay profits from both.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 13:02:39 EST

big amen to guru's comments, "life and auctions"! 'nuff said
   rugg - Wednesday, 03/16/05 13:29:55 EST

I hardly know anything about smithing. Can you tell me if it would work well to use hickory or oak wood in a forge or do you have to use coal?
   - blue meanie - Wednesday, 03/16/05 13:31:53 EST

I agree that the company is more important than the "registered quality system". On the other hand, the current version of ISO 9001 known as ISO 9001:2000, made some major changes to the previous version, ISO 9001:1994. Concentrating on processes now, customer satisfaction, etc. Only 6 procedures are required by the standard versus about 20 for the 94 version. I won't say that companies get registered who probably shouldn't be both overseas and here, but at least they're trying to combat the "you can make crap, as long as it's documented crap situation."

IMHO, it comes down to the company - are they committed to do the right thing to customer, employees, environment or not. A good quality system should help them do that.

Last post on quality systems - I talk this too much during the day. Metallurgy & blacksmithing is much more fun. :)
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 03/16/05 13:48:21 EST

Schools: sstreckfuss, Travel distance is certainly a factor. However, there are blacksmithing schools all over the US. Frank Turley who answers questions here operates the oldest or first school of the modern era and is a great instructor. His classes are longer than most so that you REALLY learn blacksmithing not just get an introduction to forging. (Click THE GURUS at the top of this page for more information).

Then in North Carolina there are two schools, John C Campbell and Penland and another in New Jersey. ABANA.org keeps the best list of blacksmithing schools.

Uri Hofi has been teaching classes at the Center for Metal Arts in Florida, NY ocassionaly and a few other places as well. He had a falling out with Tom Clark and it is doubtfull he would be teaching there.

Everyone has their favorites but you can learn something from all these folks. Don't forget your local blacksmithing organization. They often have demonstrations and open forges or green coal classes. Check ABANA-Chapter.com for the ones nearest you.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 13:50:11 EST

Wood in Forge: blue meanie, This is POSSIBLE however, it takes a deeper than normal forge and you get a lot of acrid smoke that burns the eyes and throat.

The best solid fuel for a forge is high grade bituminous coal. That is followed by real wood charcoal (not briquets). Real wood charcoal is almost smoke free and can be used in the same type forge as coal. In North America you can purchase real wood charcoal from resturant suppliers. The next best fuel is any fair grade of bituminous coal. Coal varies in density from almost pure carbon anthracite to soft peat moss. Coal varies infinitely in purity from that same anthracite to oil shale and black carbon bearing rock that has no fuel value at all. So it can be important what grade coal you use.

Earlier this week and last we had discussions (above) about using and making charcoal. See also our FAQ on Coal and Charcoal.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 14:00:56 EST

QC, Gavainh you are right. We have beat this horse to death for the time being. I much prefer to focus on personal quality of production than institutional quality systems. Personal quality standards are what you make of them except for perfectionists that must learn to temper their quality by knowing when to quit.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 14:05:56 EST

O,Mighty Guru, I made a bullet mold for a friend of mine which he needed to be .69 in. Well, it came out fantastically except there's a little tit on one side where I was over zealous with the little grinding tool. My question is: Will this cause the ball to catch in the musket resulting in bodily injury or will it take the path of least resistance and come out resulting in praise for me. My career hangs in the balance. Thanks for everything. R.
   roger collins - Wednesday, 03/16/05 14:14:12 EST

I'm a novice metalworker. I have a degree in Fine Arts/Metalsmithing, but most of my experience is with non-ferrous (soft) metals. I recently bought an old bronco (a real fixer-upper) and I need some general advice about doing some custom body/chassis work. I'm looking to make my own bumper w/ winch mount. I'm not exactly wealthy, so I'm looking to do it with a fairly cheap stick welder. What kind of stick welder will get the job done? To clarify, I don't have a welder, and I'm looking to buy one. What kind of amperage/ power output will I need for the job (probably using 1/8-1/4 inch steel, possible stainless)? Any info you got will help out a lot. Thx!
   Dylan Carvin - Wednesday, 03/16/05 14:33:29 EST

Dylan: IMHO, pay the money and have a professional welder make it up for you. I suspect you will be happier in the long run.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/16/05 14:52:32 EST


If all you want the welder for is that one project, think seriously about renting. You can rent a good welder for anywhere from $25 a day and up. Buying a good welder will be a minimum of $250...and waaay up.

That said, you can do a lot of work with nothing more than a 200 amp AC buzzbox welder, IF you know what you're doing. Building a bumper to be a winch mount, which may involve serious risk of personal injury in use, requires that you KNOW what you are doing. Repairing fenders is one thing, but structural stuff where safety is a real factor are a whole 'nother thing.

I recommend you check with your local community college, trade school or other organization to see about getting some welding courses BEFORE you try making that winch mount.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/16/05 15:03:59 EST

Roger Collins, if the little bump is where the sprue comes in, it's not a problem as long as the ball is loaded with the bump pointed in the direction of travel. It makes a MUCH bigger difference in a rifled bore than a smoothbore.

If the ball can be loaded in all orientations, it'll shoot, but will not be nearly as accurate as a smooth sphere.

Personally, if MY career hung in the balance, Id make it again until it was right. To paraphrase Francis Whitaker when asked if a bar was straight enough, "(insert withering glare here)It's straight or it's not. Do it right or don't do it."
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 03/16/05 15:06:12 EST

Roger, Please note that Alan is a very accomplished gunsmith and I would listen closely to his advice.

However, you may not need to remake the bullet mold. You may be able to weld up where you erred and then clean up.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 15:23:22 EST

DIY Welding: Dylan, all the advise above is good. Here are some more thoughts.

YOU may not hang your life off the welds holding that winch but someone else may. It will be your responsibility forever.

Paying a certified welder may be more economical than you think. If you cut the parts, do all the grinding and prep work the welding may only take a few hours. Note that in the steel fabrication business the oxy-acetylene cutting equipment and grinders to clean up after the torch work usualy cost more than basic arc welding equipment. Get advise on the joint design before going to all this trouble.

If you insist on doing it yourself a better design would use bolted joints with oversize bolts. In this type thing I would use bolts that were EACH strong enough to hang the vehical off plus a safety factor. You would be surprised how small a bolt this is. The reason for having every bolt capable of the full load is you do not know what direction the load will be applied from AND there is always a possibility of losing one or more bolts. There are sound engineering reasons you still see a lot of bolted or riveted assemblies. The primary reason is it is easier to engineer and the fasteners come with their own quality control.

No matter how you approach this task there is some engineering to consider. If you are not capable then it is cheaper to purchase a commercial product that has been checked out by an engineer. . .

Going to welding school is not enough when any kind of safety is in question. Several months of welding school only get you warmed up. Your welding does not start getting decent until you have burned a few hundred pounds of rod, mostly in one sitting. . . Its nearly impossible to get this kind of practice in a hobby situation.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 15:41:41 EST

Edgar Haris- Common Sense Hammer
Have you looked at the Fredlyfx website? He is restoring a Common Sense hammer- assumed to be a 75 lb version. Maybe you can get some dimensions from him just as a starting point to reverse engineer your links. Iy you are real lucky it could even be the same machine. Just do a search for fredlyfx.
   - Don Sinclaire - Wednesday, 03/16/05 15:42:13 EST

what is the best scroll bender to bend from 2in to about 10 in and where do I buy it Thanks
   Bill Poust - Wednesday, 03/16/05 16:01:59 EST

Thx. I am aware of the safety risk involved in building my own, and I plan to have my friend who has been welding for many years kindof "oversee" the project. I do also have some experience in welding and steel fabrication, just no formal "classroom" training. I will definitely get some practice on smaller, less important projects before I undertake the bumper and winch mount, but I'd like to be able to say when the truck is all said and done that I did all the work on it. I got another question though- what kind of steel do I need to use for important structural work like that? Thx for all the help, I'm sure I'll have more questions later.
   Dylan Carvin - Wednesday, 03/16/05 16:06:28 EST

Looking fo a scroll bende that will bend from2in to about 10in and where do I buy them Thanks
   Bill Poust - Wednesday, 03/16/05 16:06:49 EST

Does anyone have a diagram of how a power hammer like a Nazel or Striker work? I would like to build a small scale versoin of one of these but need to know the math behind the piston and stroke sizing and the valve timing.
   Terry Miles - Wednesday, 03/16/05 16:39:45 EST

Note that you can often get a decent used buzzbox for less than the cost of renting, My lincoln 225 tombstone was US$40 and was in ready to go condition. Can you borrow your "friend's" equipment? Don't recall ever meeting a professional welder who didn't have one of his own tucked away somewhere.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/16/05 17:00:16 EST

Hey guys, thanks for the advice regarding beginning blacksmithing gear.

I just joined the local ABANA chapter (California Blacksmith Association) and will look for beginning classes through them, and hopefully the smith that teaches me can also help me get some gear.
   Mike - Wednesday, 03/16/05 17:06:18 EST

Type of Steel: Dylan, "Mild Steel" or structural grade such as A-36. Do not use high strength or high carbon steels for fabricated weldments, they require heat treating after welding.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/16/05 17:10:44 EST

I am looking for a scroll bender that will bend 2 in to about 10 in, Thanks for any help you may offer.
   - Bill Poust - Wednesday, 03/16/05 17:14:12 EST


This is a message board, not a chat room. The guru will get to your message as soon as he can. It rarely takes more than 3 or 4 hours.
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/16/05 17:44:07 EST

AUCTIONS(Non-E-Bay)GURU-I have been frustrated by having what I think are professionals at raising my bids if they think I am serious. This has happened to me several times and has caused me to stop going to auctions. One case in point was a Beverly shear that I bid on and one person would up my bid over an over so I decided to quit and he looked like he would choke when the auctioneer could not get me to continue. Is this a standard practice with auctioneers to have someone do this? Is there an answer to this other than to give up auctions?
   - J. Myers - Wednesday, 03/16/05 20:46:44 EST

J. Myers: Yes, determine what is the most you are willing to pay for the item and then absolutely don't bid any higher - not even a quarter. I have been to some auctions to where I am pretty sure shills were working in the crowd. If the shills get stuck often enough they will stop.

It's done on eBay also. There was a group in Richardson, TX who were notorious (sp?) on making fake arrowheads and then bidding up each others auctions. eBay has programs which look for this type of activity.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/16/05 20:58:18 EST

J. MYERS> I have been to way to many auctions. You always have these jerk-water jerks that sell stuff at auctions and they either bid on their own stuff or each other's. The method I have always used is: When the items you want come up, aggressively bid on a rapid basis right up to the penny that YOU have decieded on. When they hit it. STOP DEAD right there and DO NOT let them work another bid out of you. If you are new to this bunch of auctioners. You should bid on some cheaper stuff so they will learn your methods.. You have to show them how you opperate or they won't know to be careful on the items you really went for.---Make sense???
   - sandpile - Wednesday, 03/16/05 22:05:52 EST

Bill Poust- I answered your question about scroll benders- maybe you just didnt like my answer.
do a google search for :
shop outfitters
boss benders
Hossfeld Benders
American Bender
and you can see what is out there. What do you want to make scrolls out of? if it is just 1/8" x 1" flat bar, then you have a few cheap choices. If it is most anything else, you are talking more money, or learning more hand skills, or building jigs.
If you tell us more about what you want to do, we can give you a more intelligent answer. 2" to 10" is what dimension? what shapes of metal will your scrolls be? round? square? flat bar the easy way? What sizes of metal? How many an hour, or day, or month are you going to make? 10,000 a month all the same means one tool. One a week, everyone different, means another tool.
   ries - Wednesday, 03/16/05 22:37:46 EST

Auctioneer Lingo. The kafóbeldeob-bob of the auctioneers takes getting used to. I think when most of them say "now" and then the amount, that doesn't mean they have that amount. It means they are asking for it, the next increment up from the previous bid.

You can waste a day at an auction and not get what you wanted. It's probably best to go with one or more friends, shoot the bull, eat and drink what is available, try to get a fix on the auctioneer's lingo, and watch for shills.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/16/05 22:54:54 EST

   COTTON - Wednesday, 03/16/05 22:57:13 EST


Not enough info to go on. Email me some pictures, and I'll try to help you identify it.

ps. No need to SHOUT, we can hear you quite well. (grin)
   Paw Paw - Wednesday, 03/16/05 23:31:19 EST

hey thanks( Guru ) fer pointing me to the iForge. It helped alot and pointed out some things that I was doing wrong.
   timex - Thursday, 03/17/05 00:19:58 EST

Forum comments:

- Multiple posts. Sometimes it appears your entry isn't taking in that it asks you to enter your name and e-mail again. When you do, it comes back with the same request multiple times. Thus, it may be the fault of the forum programming, not the sender.

- On all capitals. That use to bother me as well until I learned some folks with poor eyesight can only handle capital letters well so use them for their typing. I no longer consider it shouting.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 03/17/05 05:38:48 EST

Edgar, I also have a Common Sense hammer, but mine is the 75lb No2. I have been rebuilding it since I got it home. It had seen many years of service in a foundry in Berkly CA. I have been documenting my efforts on my web site, http://fredlyfx.com I have a lot of pictures there of the various parts as I've cleaned them up. If you like send me an email of what parts you need specks on and I can take some pics of what I have with a tape measure in the pic so you get a better idea. Obviously not perfect, but may help you some.
   FredlyFX - Thursday, 03/17/05 06:43:51 EST

Mike, what part of CA are you in? I'm in So Cal in San Jacinto. If your near drop me an email and you are welcome to come over some time.
   FredlyFX - Thursday, 03/17/05 06:45:36 EST

J. Myers: To follow-up on Sandpile's comment, your demeanor when bidding may be prompting the shills. For example, without your realizing it when something comes up you really want you perk right up and show a good deal of interest. You might want to try using a 'poker face' and act the same whether you are only marginally interested or very interested. Same goes for asking questions during the inspection process before bidding. If you only look at what your are very interested in, they might be picking up on it. Old poker saying: "If you haven't spotted the patsy in the game, it is likely you."
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 03/17/05 08:22:34 EST


We freqeuntly get folks who think this is a chat room, not realizing that message replies are not instantaneous.

I still consider all caps as shouting. Most longtime members of the Internet also consider it shouting. This convention pre-dates the Internet, dating back to the early 1980's when I ran a PBBS in one of the first, non government computer nets.
   Paw Paw - Thursday, 03/17/05 09:23:43 EST

Shills - Auctions: J.Meyers, IF the person bidding up the item has ANY relationship to the auctioneer then what they are doing is illegal. The only way around this is if there are no bids. Then the auctioneer or a helper may bid but cannot continue to do so if others continue the bidding. Once in a rare while they get to take soemthing home that would not have sold otherwise.

On the other hand, there are often dealers that will push your price just for the fun of it. It takes lots of auction experiance to recognize these guys. Yeah, they are jerks but there is nothing you can do except do the same on something THEY want. But any bidding on an auction is a risk. . . You can always ASK "Are you a shill?" If you don't get punched for asking a real shill will dissapear quickly. I have caught bankers at bankruptcy auctions acting as shills trying to protect their investment. It is still illegal. I confronted one and got the expected reaction. . but he quit bidding.

It is easy to be a shill on ebay and I have tracked several folks selling the Chinese junk anvils being their own shill. Besides being illegal in every state its against ebay rules. It goes on constantly but ebay does not consider it a serious problem any more than copyright or trademark infringement.

Bidding: In a real world auction I have found that if there are a bunch of folks interested in something like an anvil that intimidation ocassionaly works. I'll bid in $100 increments. That weeds out the meek that may end up bidding higher $10 at a time and those that think they can low ball the price (if more than 2 people WANT somthing it isn't going to happen).

The calm stoney poker face helps at auctions but you MUST be sure the auctioneer knows you are bidding. See my story about my first anvil on the story page.

I often bid low on MANY items just in case I get lucky and then drop out as soon as the bidding gets hot. This is usualy a reasonable bid that I will NOT exceed. Frank's comment on auctions being a big waste of time is correct. If there is only ONE item you are interested in it will invariably be nearly the last item up costing you a whole day. I've walked away from many of these auctions simply because it was not worth my time on a 50/50 chance at getting something at half price. What is a day worth to you?

On an ebay auction the last minute/second sniping method works best. Yeah, they say don't do it. But it WORKS and keeps the price from getting run up. If the other guy has over bid high enough you won't get there. But if he is not paying attention at the moment the auction closes you may outbid him by a penny. . . Note that you cannot bid in penny increments. . but there IS a way to out bid by a penny. I've used multiple windows to bid several times in the last minute of an auction to get what I want.

The advantage of the last minute bid is that everyone else looking at the item will see no movement and think they can come in late with one bid and get the item. That often happens and I have bought more than one item that way.

A KNOWN ebay ploy is to setup auctions without a minimum or reserve making it look like it could be a great deal. People start bidding low and MIGHT get it very cheap. But the dealer is NOT going to let that happen and will play shill games. Bidders that start low will often stay in the game and pay MORE than they should.

There are books and seminars on how to "get rich" on ebay and most teach illegal tactics such as using a shill.

Just because there is no minimum or reserve does not necessarily mean the auction is a rip-off. However, you can check power-sellers past auctions and see what the selling price was (often on the same items over and over). When the prices show a pattern of all being nearly the same then look at who was bidding. If the same people are always SECOND then they are probably a shill but it is hard to prove. Ocassionly a shill wins the auction. Of course they do not pay. The seller just loses their listing fee and will relist the item. . . ebay has the ability to police this kind of thing but they have shown no indication of wanting to.

KNOW YOUR GOODS: I have seen items at real and virtual auctions sell for more than they would NEW a block away at the hardware store. There are two reasons for this. The first is stupidity of the bidders (don't be one of these). The second is that at estate auctions friends of the family will often bid things up as a donation to the widow or widower. Sometimes this gets ridiculous and almost comical. There will be NO good deals today. . or at least until these guys run out of money. This is common, there is nothing wrong with it, you DO need to recognize it unless you to want to make a donation to the widow. . .

I like the good old boy tobacco barn auctioneers we have localy. But every auctioneer or auction company has their own style. If you are going to bid at an auction it pays to pay close attention to how things work. Many auctioneers will find three or four people that are bidding and stop paying attention to the rest of the crowd. With these guys you have to bid early and not skip a step. If you skip a step they will count you out and if you come in late you may not get in. Some auctioneers take all their cues from their helpers so you need to know who they are if you are going to bid. Different styles. . .

Auctions can be a lot of fun but you have to learn how they work and you cannot get too serious about them. Bids get missed in the excitement and sometimes the auctioneer thinks he has enough and will quit. Its life, its a gamble, things happen. .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/17/05 11:36:49 EST

In OH at least it's ilegal for an auctioneer to use shills; of course one I attended several times did have someone who worked for him that would bid up stuff that was going low and if he got it the same item would re-appear later in the auction.

It can work the other way too---if you don't appear interested and ready to go the distance a non-shill bidder might decide you are on the verge of stopping and so continue.

I've gotten some great deals at auctions and some wasted days---I brings a chair and a book and lunch in my backpack and sit in the general area I'm interested in and let the auction come to me.

I make every effort to get anything I buy off-site ASAP as I have seen quite a bit of stuff disappear while everybody is off somewhere else---one fellow paid top dollar at a school auction for a lathe cause it had *all* the tooling, when he went to load it it was stripped and a fellow who had paid almost nothing for a stripped lathe had "accidently" loaded all the tooling on his truck. It got found real fast when the other buyer blocked the thief's truck and started calling the police---There were pictures of each lathe and it's tooling at the auction location and so it would be an open and shut case.

Thomas (I was loading a Johnson gas heat treat furnace I had bought when this went down and so got to see it first hand!)
   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/17/05 11:45:35 EST

Self Contained Hammer: Terry, The valving of these machines is very tricky. I have detail drawings from several such as Nazel, Massie and the Chinese hammers and I can't figure it out.

Back in 2000-2001 Mark Krause was selling plans and diagrams based on his research into the subject. I had seen the diagrams but did not have time to study them and I do not have a copy. Others might.

The Kuhn and its Turkish copies use a simplier arrangement but it is still complicated. Kuhns are a smooth dependable machine but those copying their design did not understand it resulting in recycling too much air. This causes the air to get hot and the machine to diesel. The result is that you can blow the head off the hammer.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/17/05 11:48:55 EST

Guru, you'll notice I didn't say HOW he had to remake the mold (grin!) A little filling and regrinding could work, depending on how he made the parts to begin with. If he used a die grinder or a ball-end milling cutter it'd be fine, if he used the old way of slowly closing the mold halves on the cutter cherry it'd get the symmetry out of whack.

One thing that just occurred to me: Roger, did you make the ball diameter exactly 0.690 inches? If it's for a .69 cal muzzle-loading musket or rifle, that would be too big. You need to go a minimum of .005" undersize, but preferably .010, as in a .69 bore needs a ball sized from .680 to .685 max. The cloth or paper patching material takes up the slack and engages the rifling, if present.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 03/17/05 12:17:21 EST

More Self Contained Hammers: Although these machines seem convienient they are not the best machine to build as a do it yourself project unless you are looking for an R&D challange. Standard air hammers making use of a commerical air compressor are much more economical to build. You also avoid building the compressor part of the machine and buy technology that is much better than what you can probably build yourself.

The major difference between the two is that a self contained hammer runs at the same constant frequency of its built in compressor while a standard air hammer runs at different speeds accoring to the stroke and throtle opening. These are completely different characteristics that take time to get used to. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/17/05 12:52:51 EST

Thank you for the offer FredlyFX, but San Jacinto is a bit of a hike from where I am. I'm just north of San Francisco.
   Mike - Thursday, 03/17/05 13:42:02 EST

If anyone has an email address for Mark Krause a copy of the information about the Self contained hammer I would love to have either. I would prefer contact info. Can I get a copy of the info you have? I think I can make this work as I am a Journeyman Tool and Die Maker and also a Design Engineer, both of which with a couple of dollars will get you a cup of coffee (grin). Thanx for any info on this subject.
   Terry Miles - Thursday, 03/17/05 14:06:46 EST

Mike, If you are just north of SF then I think there are a bunch of smiths in your area. There is also going to be the CBA's Spring conference in Petaluma April 21-24. Go to http://calsmith.org and then click on events to get more info.

I highly reccomend attending if you can find a way. I learned more in one weekend last year than I had in a year.

   FredlyFX - Thursday, 03/17/05 14:51:33 EST

Terry, Mark has moved around a bit and I do not have a current address for him. If you ask around you may find someone that knows where he is or has a copy of his plans to sell. However, I think he only sold about 100 copies world wide.

The info I have is in the form of shop manuals that I am not prepared to copy for others. You are welcome to stop in and make use of my library.

The valving on these things is a real trick. As I mentioned, if you could find out how Kuhn does it they use a much simpler system. The classic Nazel style hammer has two rotary motion control valves with multiple ports. There is also a check valve and exhust valve. Intake is via slots in the compressor sylinder wall (on some hammers). At idle the compressor side pumps up and raises the ram, excess is exhusted, as the control is depressed all the compressor air goes to the ram cylinder driving it down AND up. Air is exhsusted at this time as well. Lots of shuffling around of air paths. Other hammers have simplified the valving by recirculating more and more air. This causes the machine to run hot and in the worse case to deisel, sometimes catastrophicaly.

Then. . . there are quite a few junk hammers around if you look and ask. Reverse engineering from parts works too. .

One idea I had for a self contained hammer using commercial cylinders was to drive a floating cylinder by a crank and let the cylinder tip back and forth (no wrist bearing). They have a name for this in steam engines but I cannot remember. . . The crank would be directly mounted on the motor. VERY simple. The rest of the hammer would be built like any DIY hammer except the valving.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/17/05 15:02:31 EST

Upcomming Events: If you are in range of North Western North Carolina this weekend is the NC-ABANA meet at BigBLUhammer Mfg. Co. this Saturday March 19. There will be numerous vendors including BlacksmithSupply/Euroanvils, Klingspor and others. The NEW BigBLU QC-155 will be demonstrated by Dean Kurfman. Lunch will be served and there will be an auction and loads of blacksmith type fun.

Friday night there will be a pre-meet party and impromptu hammer demos. Come watch the guru make mashed iron!

This is the second year for this event (see our NEWS). It was a good event last year and promisses to be better as a yearly event. See the BiGBLUhammer.com page details and directions.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/17/05 15:24:13 EST

Yes, I plan on attending it! Petaluma is only 20 minutes away from me, so it should be easy for me to make it, at least on the Saturday and Sunday.
   Mike - Thursday, 03/17/05 16:15:55 EST

Terry, John Larson (Iron Kiss Hammers) who occasionaly posts here and in the hammer-in has built an app. 160 lb self contained version of his air hammer. He also has a cute litle test mule he built which will make you laugh out loud just to watch it jump around (which is quite a contrast to his production hammers) but it will actually beat metal and it demonstrates the basic valving needed.
   SGensh - Thursday, 03/17/05 16:56:47 EST

That little "test mule" of John Larson's was about the slickest piece of prototyping I've ever seen. Watching it run, and having John explain its workings, gave me the mental picture to finally grasp how self-contained hammers really work. It is a deceptively simple-looking machine.

John's big self-contained demonstrated most emphatically that John learned well from the test mule. A very nice hammer! But his 90# utility hammer was the one that really impressed me (and a lot of others at Quad States) the most. What a joy to work with! If John is going to have a demo hammer at a meet anywhere near you, take the time to test drive it and talk to John.

One thing that Larson's utility hammers demonstrate abundantly is that GOOD valves make a huge difference in a hammer's performance. John uses big valves, with 3/4" ports where other makers use 1/2" ports, and likewise on his control circuits. The result of that, and some other design features of John's, is that his hammers are amazingly controllable and crisp.

All I need to do now is get John to come down here to Paradise and build me one so I don't have to pay the shipping from Maryland. (grin)

Standard disclaimers re non-compensation apply. I just appreciate good work.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/17/05 17:36:50 EST

Sweet Thx guys. Yeah, ebay is where I been lookin for most of this tuff. I generally just find a good deal with the "buy it now" option on ebay. A lot of times you can find items with that option fairly close to the bid price. I do a lot of shopping around on the internet too. What gauge/thickness is good for structural items on vehicles? I was thinking 1/8 to 5/16 inch thick plate for the body of the bumper with 1/4 inch for the frame attaching to the frame of the truck with bolts. Also, what is the min/max thicknesses of mild steel a 200A "buzzbox" will effectively work on?
   Dylan Carvin - Thursday, 03/17/05 18:26:40 EST

two part question here, after intro.

Welding tech student right now at a local Tech college and teaching my self hte art of blacksmithing. Was actual struggling before i found this page. as for book work i've read " the art of blacksmithing" cover to cover, and am about to dig into "the new edge of the anvil "

my questions are 1) is it ok to use an Argon or C25 regulator for LP or does it requier a special regulator like Aceteline.

2) at my school we have an old gas forge that the instructor thins might be Natural gas, though we will check tomorrow. how hard would it be to convert to LP? in my reasurch it looks like LP is the 'best' forging gas as well as easyer to comeby the Natural gas
   Lakesactor - Thursday, 03/17/05 18:41:48 EST

oh.. almost forgot another question. is there a listing some where of Black smithing schools any where on the net? i've looked and found sights for specific schools but none in my area ( seatle/tacoma/ WA ) is there such a page out there or does any one know of a school in that area?

if not i guess i'll keep looking for a smith to at least watch work, i know of one in my area but i have yet to meet/talk with them.
   Lakesactor - Thursday, 03/17/05 18:44:50 EST

GURU AND OTHERS Thanks for the auction answers. I think I may go to another or two and watch the action before it gets to what I want. I read the story about Guru's first anvil and it struck a familiar chord because something similar had happened to me at my very first auction experience. I also saw a young kid get something he really was hopping-up-and-down excited about because the crowd there wanted him to get it and held back from bidding. There were lots of smiles other than his there that day.
   - J. Myers - Thursday, 03/17/05 19:17:58 EST

Lakesactor- in the seattle area, Pratt Fine arts center in Seattle has blacksmithing classes. You should also join NWBA, and attend as many of their conferences as you can- equipment is always for sale there, along with demos. Next one is in May, I think, in Oregon, but September it ought to be back up in Wa. somewhere.There are blacksmithing workshops at various shops in the NW- Paul Thorne up in Anacortes has em occasionally, and so do several others- they advertise in the NWBA mag, Hot Iron News. www.blacksmith.org/ is their website. There are over 500 blacksmiths in the Washington State area- I am surprised you havent tripped over one yet. A big bunch down by eatonville, another outcropping in Port Townsend, lots in Ballard/Fremont, a building full at Spokane st. and Marginal Way in Seattle, along with the odd forge just about everywhere in Western Wa.
Dont use argon regulators for propane. Severe burns cost a lot more than 25 bucks, the max cost of a real one- go to a welding supply store, or a propane dealer.
The big forge is probably a Johnson Forge- they can be converted, its a matter of burner tips. Johnson is still in business, but I am sure factory tips would not be cheap, seeing as how a new Johnson Foge can run $4500. www.johnsongas.com
   ries - Thursday, 03/17/05 19:35:32 EST

LP in liquid form is an aggressive solvent - it will degrade seals and hoses designed for acetylene which is why its best to use the right equipment. Flammable gas under high pressure next to a hot, open fire? It's scary enough that even a blacksmith will part with the cash needed for the right equipment.
   adam - Thursday, 03/17/05 20:04:04 EST

Terry, Mark Krause's address may be available from Toby Hickman in California. Toby was something of a mentor to Mark. Mark also did a video with Bob Bergman in Wisconsin. Bob advertises in ABANA pubs' classifieds. And the guy who wrote the coal forge pamphlet that is now being sold by ABANA knows Mark and has visited his shop. Hope these clues work. If you want, I can try here to answer a question or two.
   John Larson - Thursday, 03/17/05 20:28:01 EST

vicopper, it would be vastly cheaper to ship iron--I'm not a cheap date!
   John Larson - Thursday, 03/17/05 20:30:21 EST

Terry-I recently came across a post in the archives concerning Mark Kraus'es hammer, it was interesting enough that I wrote down the date: 5/16/00 incase You want to look it up.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/17/05 22:26:41 EST

Dylan--With a 200 amp buz box You are limited to rod size, not work thickness. That machine will run 5/32 rods, multiple passes are how You deal with thick work.With practace, You can weld 18ga [.045"]with a 3/32 or smaller rod.The easy way to tell how thick the components need to be is to look at one that has seen hard use & survived, and make everything a little stronger, don't leave out any bracing.IF IN DOUBT, MAKE IT STOUT.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/17/05 22:45:54 EST

Lakesactor, I'll be the presenter at the Northwest Blacksmiths meeting, Corvallis, Oregon, at the Benton County Fairgrounds, May 13-15. See the Calendar of Events via the pulldown menu this page. I also run a school in Santa Fe, NM. www.turleyforge.com
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/17/05 23:17:35 EST

Lakesactor--Propane regulaters designed for gas grills, stoves, portable heaters etc. are pre set to deliver 11 inces water colum pressure, a little less than 1/2 LB. If You neeed more or adjustable pressure, You need one from the welding suply store. If the ones You have are a name brand the welding suply MAY be able to look them up and see if they are listed "All gas use" and set You up with the proper fittings or adapters.Heed the warnings of the others: Propane is a solvent and will eat grade "R"&"RM" hose and any other rubber/elastomer/plastic not rated for it.Allso the regulator must have the proper spring in it to work in the pressure range You need.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/17/05 23:19:22 EST

Lakesactor: There is a seller on eBay (Christfrostic) offering the complete from tank to forge set up (regulator, hose and fittings) for $65. It would run more than that locally. You can also do a Google search on Zoeller Forge as he has basically the same items, but sells them separately.

Take a look at how frankie8acres is advertising his Russian anvils now (6163768617). Still he gets glowing feedback on them and doesn't have a single negative feedback (heck, I have six myself). He is apparently providing a product his buyers are happy with.

Question on stainless in a propane forge. Someone mentioned putting down a stainless plate when forge welding in a propane forge so flux doesn't eat up the soft firebrick. Is 1/8" thick enough for a plate?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/18/05 03:47:06 EST

I called the Northern Rockies Blacksmith Associaton....and I thought that it was ABANA? I went to the "ABANA Chapters.com and it showed up under ABANA so I thought it was the same thing, Excuse me but Obviously it is NOT the same thing! The guy I called lived in Livingston Montana and he sure set me straight in telling me that ABANA is a totally differen't thing! Well, I thought he had a bug up his you know what! After all of the "setting me straight" conversation he actually wanted me to join!!! Can you believe that? Now everyone on here has been very helpful and some of you have told me to contact the nearest ABANA, but how can I if the NRBA and ABANA are differen't? Can someone tell me the difference between all of the "states" on the ABANA web site and ABANA itself because I thought they were all the same, Thank you.
   Matt H - Friday, 03/18/05 04:09:41 EST

Matt H: If you go to the www.abana.com web site you will see the link is AFFILIATES. Not all are ABANA chapters. The national ABANA organization has had some past problems in dealing with 'chapters' and, I do believe, at one time most of the chapters in the SE either were kicked out of ABANA or left on their own over some policy differences. Thus, unless the group listing clearly indicates it is a chapter, then don't make the assumption it is.

Any wrench collectors here? What is the value of this particular eBay auction (6162279741)? Current bid is over $1,300. I follow wrenches on eBay and don't see anything there which would make the lot worth even 10% of that. What am I missing?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/18/05 06:21:37 EST

SS sheet for forge welding:

Ken, I just use a scrap piece that's maybe 14g. It will end up warping, but that's easy to straighten out. It's now got a nice shallow dish to it. I've had it for 3 years, but don't do a whole lot of forge welding. I probably have a total of 10 - 12 hours on it.
   - Marc - Friday, 03/18/05 08:43:07 EST

Ken, I don't see anything worth that kind of money in that lot. I wouldn't go over $25 myself. I think (could certainly be wrong) that a bunch of bidders either got excited or shilled.
   Paw Paw - Friday, 03/18/05 09:33:52 EST

I looked at those wrenches and only see one unusual rare one. Maybe that is what every wrench collector is after. Maybe some of the manufactors are uncommon also.

forge welding brick
I bought a 16.00 forge welding brick from CF made by NC. This may be a cheap way to protect your forge base lining. You would probably need two to cover the entire surface area.
   burntforge - Friday, 03/18/05 09:37:36 EST

Hello Guru please could you help? I am researching my family history and recently discovered my Great Great Great Grandfather was a WHITESMITH by occupation during 1795-1839 would you be able to tell me what a Whitesmith was? Any help greatfully received.

Ps I found your site via Google.

Thanks a lot
   - Elspeth Cooper - Friday, 03/18/05 10:04:12 EST

Llspeth, a whitesmith finished and decorated iron utencils, hardware and such to a bright finish by filing and scraping. Whitesmiths would either make the forged pieces to start OR more likely obtain them from the blacksmith. He also may have done finishing work for a blacksmith.

The art of the whitesmith included decorative chamfering with a triangular file turning straight edges into curved and filigreed edges. Whitesmiths did similar decorative work as silversmiths except in iron.
   - guru - Friday, 03/18/05 10:43:32 EST

I have the opportunity to buy a Novelty brand power hammer. I've found very little on the internet about this brand. Is it possible to buy replacement parts for this brand? Should I be conservative with my purchase price because of this?
   MIKE H. - Friday, 03/18/05 10:53:16 EST

Gas Forge Conversions: If the gas forge is an old commercial natural gas forge this whole discussion may be mute. Many of these are gas hogs and the normal little regulators used for small modern efficient will not deliver enough gas. A bulk tank and a large bulk tank regulator will be needed. ALSO, when setting this kind of thing up in a public building you must meet local plumbing codes for gas which may dictate very low pressure which in turn requires BIG pipe. 3/4" and 1" are common.

IF you have natural gas AND the NG forge the cost of the NG is usualy cheaper per BTU than propane. The forge will get just as hot.
   - guru - Friday, 03/18/05 10:54:20 EST

Mike H, see my comments yesterday about orphan machines. NO there are no parts or detailed specs for this machine. A little of its history is described in "Pounding out the Profits" See our book review page.
   - guru - Friday, 03/18/05 10:56:13 EST


The whitesmithing term is fairly well covered with historical references in "Early American Ironware; Cast and Wrought" by Henry J. Kauffman; Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1966, p. 53, pp. 81-84.

MattH, I was a presenter for the Northern Rockies Association in 2002 in Bozeman, and I was unaware of their non affiliation with ABANA, but it didn't matter to me. They seemed like a good, viable group.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 03/18/05 11:01:05 EST

Are you thinking of 'oscillating' cylinder steam engines? (usually single action)
   - Tom H - Friday, 03/18/05 11:16:01 EST

Thank you Guru and Frank I will see if the book you recomend is available in the UK.

   - Elspeth Cooper - Friday, 03/18/05 11:16:21 EST

Oscillating Cylinder: Tom, that may sounds like it. Reduces a lot of parts but requires good guides in the cylinder and flexible connections in this application. Since most modern builders use rubber hoses this is not a problem. If the hoses are routed carefully there is little motion at the pivot and wear on the hose should not be problem. Counter weighting the crank reduces vibration. It is also possible to incorporate valving by cam directly on the crank.

I've worked out both ends of this design but not the middle. Don't forget the need to take in new air and exhust old air. . just like breathing.
   - guru - Friday, 03/18/05 11:57:35 EST

Whitesmithing: Elspeth, The book may be available. The description of a whitesmith should be covered by any book covering crafts up through the 18th century.

In the UK a whitesmith would have been more specialized than in the US and would not have done his own forging. He may also have been part of the cottage industry that existed in England then. In this case he would have worked for a company that provided the materials, organized the stages of the work and then sold the finished goods. Many cottage industry workers were farmers (or their family members) that did this work in the winter or anytime they were not needed in the fields.
   - guru - Friday, 03/18/05 12:04:17 EST

Cheers Guru you have been a great help might just try our library tomorrow.
   - Elspeth Cooper - Friday, 03/18/05 12:47:18 EST

Thanks for the info all, still need to look at that forge to get the rest of the specs, and am now saving my nickles and dimes for ABANA membership and the Oragen conferace ^_^
   Lakesactor - Friday, 03/18/05 13:03:54 EST

Eek.. sorry about the terrible spelling in that last post... guess i got to excited to spell check
   Lakesactor - Friday, 03/18/05 15:02:49 EST

hi I just wanted to know if annyone new of a place on line, or some other resorce, that has instructions on how to forge socket chistles , or if someone here would be so kind as to give me a breif outline of the process.
   - treavor - Friday, 03/18/05 17:21:39 EST

Ken, I use stainless heat treating foil to keep the flux off the firebrick floor and it works fine. Very thin. Edges can be bent up to keep flux and scale from rolling off.
   - Tony - Friday, 03/18/05 18:30:51 EST

We have a discussion going in the members forum about keeping this site alive and making it better. All input and ideas welcome.
   Ellen - Friday, 03/18/05 18:40:15 EST

Dear GURU,
please kindly guide me on how best i can forge an image, eg aman.
I am a blacksmith.I have done lots of job since i became one and ido not have any regreats for being a blacksmith,infact its a thing of joy whrn ever i find my hand work in peoples home.
Kinly aid me regarding my question sir.
yours Sincerely ,
Tony Dibor.
   tony dibor - Friday, 03/18/05 19:08:50 EST

Dear GURU,
please kindly guide me on how best i can forge an image, eg aman.
I am a blacksmith.I have done lots of job since i became one and ido not have any regreats for being a blacksmith,infact its a thing of joy whrn ever i find my hand work in peoples home.
Kinly aid me regarding my question sir.
yours Sincerely ,
Tony Dibor.
   tony dibor - Friday, 03/18/05 19:09:56 EST

'lo there;
My son is making a sledge hammer for his tech. project. He was case hardening the head today, and inhaled a nasty dose of the smoke generated by the Casonite. Are you aware of health hazards associated with this. Tore him up pretty badly. The shop at school is unsafe in many ways, and I'm just trying to figure out how to approach the administration.
   Hank Smeltzer - Friday, 03/18/05 19:10:55 EST

I have used what I believe to be an 85 lb Big Blue. It was on a large 220v compressor, but I noticed after the first couple of licks, power really dropped. Thus, for those considering one of these check out your compressor needs closely - including line from compressor to hammer.

Zoeller Forge (just do a google search) sell plans for a 35-lb air hammer which works completely off of 110v with a much smaller compressor need. His built price is $3K, so I suspect you might be able to build one yourself for about half that.

Someone was asking about cutting soft firebrick. If you have a metal cutting chop saw take off the blade when it gets to the size of your table saw (e.g., 10" or 12"). Put the metal cutting blade in the table saw (you will likely need an arbor shim). Works great for cutting these soft bricks. Of course, wear safety glasses.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/18/05 19:21:48 EST

Hank Smeltzer

YOu can get the MSDS for Kasenit™ at this URL:

   vicopper - Friday, 03/18/05 20:07:46 EST

The simplest and best way, (in my opinion), to cut *soft* firebricks is with a hand saw you don't care much about. It doesn't produce much dust that way, it doesn't put the dust into the motor/bearings of your power saw, and it is plenty accurate enough for forge building purposes. I recommend against using power saws since the dust ruins them pretty quickly.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/18/05 20:11:22 EST

Hi I have a tough time controling the stress and warping in frames and large aluminum housings. I seem to remember a machine that you could hook up to the part and stress relieve as you weld.Any info you could provide is apreciated thanks.
   Robert I Geils - Friday, 03/18/05 21:25:45 EST

What is the best way to properly harden a knife blade?
   Brent - Friday, 03/18/05 23:14:47 EST

Cutting Firebrick:

I totally agree with Vicopper. An old hacksaw blade also works well for this, and a cheap junky one works no worse. Also, if you can stand to wait a fair while (ideally a week or two) before you fire your forge, cutting these bricks while wet makes it a lot safer.
   T. Gold - Saturday, 03/19/05 01:01:30 EST

Brent, That could be a very involved answer, depending on what steel you are using. Please click on FAQs and scroll to "Heat Treating" at the upper right menu on this page.
If it's high carbon steel, normalize first. Heat to a medium cherry red and quench in oil either back down or vertically, point first. Then, it will be brittle (glass hard)and it MAY warp. If so, forge it straight again at a forging heat. Normalize again, if need be.
After quenching and you're sure the blade is straight, you relieve brittleness and impart toughness by tempering over a hot plate, in a furnace with temperature control, or with the oxy torch.

Tony Dibor, To forge the figure of a man, we must know whether it will be abstract or lifelike, and what size you are thinking of. I would suggest that this would be considered "advanced forging".
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/19/05 01:22:18 EST

Does it make sense to case harden a hammer?
   adam - Saturday, 03/19/05 01:26:32 EST

Robert Geils,
I believe that the name of the device you are looking for is a Metal-lax but I am not sure of the exact spelling. I did not have much luck Googling under a number of combinations. The tool uses ultrasonic sound waves to relieve stress in metal parts both before and after welding. A friend of mine who does micro-welding for the tool and die industry has one. He demonstrated its use on a piece of cold rolled steel by cutting a piece of flat stock in half and then using the Metal-lax on one to relieve the stress. He then cut both pieces down their length with a torch. The treated stock remained flat while the untreated twisted and rolled with the cut. He claimed that he could stress relive a semi-truck frame with the same equipment. If you need more information contact me directly and I can research the contact information for you.
   habu - Saturday, 03/19/05 01:26:39 EST

if any one was curiouse about that old gass forge i was talkign about, it is NG and it dosn't look like it'd be easy to convert over and there's not NG supplie avaibly to it.

It's date plate says Johnson Froge Co. i think it's modle number was 325 b... i could be wrong. The fire box is roughly 36 inches long 8 or so inches wide and 8 or so inches deep with a swing away lid on top for access, electronic control from what i can tell.
   Lakesactor - Saturday, 03/19/05 01:32:51 EST

I've been searching around for a decent welder that I can afford without living on Ramen noodles for another 2 weeks (so sick of those) and I found a decently priced 90 amp wire feed. I know I can get a more powerful stick welder, but I much prefer wire feeds (have more experience with them). What will be my welding limitations with a 90 amp wire feed welder as apposed to a 200 amp stick (other than the cost of renting/buying inert gas for it?)
   Dylan Carvin - Saturday, 03/19/05 05:22:14 EST

Hi, I've got a power hammer question. I built a Ron Kinyon hammer. I like it a lot. I have a 5 horse compressor, not really huge. I didn't want to over tax the compressor and wear it out. So my hammer has a 11" * 1.5" cylinder moving a 25 lbs ram. Now that I've used it a while I'm thinking of putting a 2.5" bore cylinder on it and a heavier ram. Could I go up to 50 lbs without overtaxing my compressor?
   Dan - Saturday, 03/19/05 07:53:50 EST

To figure if the compresor is adaquate, will require that calculations be run to find the air flow required, and compare that to the compressor output.
To figure the air flow required will need the following data:
Pressure at the cylinder
stroke of the cylinder
swept volume of the cylinder
cycle rate of the cylinder
pressure supplied to the reducing valve feeding the cylinder

Then the amount of time spent running the hammer VS the time to compress above the required feed pressure.There are also losses to overcompression and then reduction to working pressures.
The compressor should have a CFM rating at a rated pressure.

I would expect that a non-comercial compressor, if run at anything like continous will overheat, and will fail quickly. This is a fairly involved calculation to get close, and a quick test is to look at the run time of the existing compresor while hammering, and compare to the expected 2.78 times increased swept displacement. This means almost a 3 times increase in consumed volume if stroke and pressure are kept the same. Be aware that the air valving will probably have to increase in capacity, as the increased flow required to maintain the pressure at the cylinder will nearly triple. Typically the pressure reducing valve, if used will often have the most restrictive flow capacity(Cv) I usually size by the rule of thumb, that a fast cycling cylinder needs valves and filter/regulator/lubicator that are one port size bigger than the cylinder port. (IE if the cylinder has 3/8" pipe ports, I use a 1/2" pipe ported valve train.
I hope this helps.
   ptree - Saturday, 03/19/05 10:01:08 EST

Dylan Carvin,
While in the pursuit of good tools, another resource is boxed macaroni and cheese.
   - ptree - Saturday, 03/19/05 10:02:38 EST

Good morning,
Not too long ago someone posted a site for finding information about various alloys. Can someone guide me to such a place?
   - lsundstrom - Saturday, 03/19/05 11:05:04 EST

Hank, Adam, and All,

I am very much in favor of manual arts being retained in high schools. However, it often happens that the instructors know more about woodworking and plastics than steelworking. I remember that my junior high shop teacher was also the "coach" and could hardly wait to get into the gym. In shop class, he mostly sat at his desk and read magazines (not an indictment regarding all shop teachers).

If case hardening was involved, I suppose the student was working with mild steel. If so, the eye could be drilled and die-ground or filed to shape, which is easier but slower than forging. Case hardening would be a stopgap measure in terms of the hammer's life expectancy, because the case is so thin.

The hammer would have been more servicable and longer lived if made of medium or high carbon steel and heat treated, but not all school shops are set up for forge work or heat treatment work.

I also have a question as to why a sledge hammer was selected for a project. An early learning experience for machine shop work was a small ball peen hammer, the head being lathe turned, the eye drilled and retained round for the insertion of the round metal haft. The handle was often knurled.
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/19/05 11:08:15 EST

For those who want a lookie at what might be a Badger anvil go to eBay #6163984479. A match to the 60-lb one I have. Postman's finding one with a decal more or less confirmed why these haven't shown up before - they have just been considered 'no namers'. Richard said he had spoken with someone who had worked in a hardware which carried Badgers and said they were 'ugly' anvils. Well, this one isn't all that attractive. According to information Richard had at least some had the steel plate extending to the horn tip - much like some Fishers. Richard now thinks if an anvil has a notch in the back base under the hardy and a weight number under the horn it is in all likelihood a Badger. I believe Anvils in America shows a slight bump on some Vulcans and there are some (I have only seen them in 50-pounds) with a slight bump and hour-glass depression in the bottom which might not be either Vulcans or Badgers.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/19/05 11:19:41 EST

To be specific, I bought some A-200e from Daryl Meier once and i am using it in Damask along with some O-1. I assume that is is an alloy of mild steel and nickel but I don't know for certain. I would like to know if it would require any special considerations in heat treating. What I am finding is that after hardening, my blade is pretty resistent to a file but when I temper to just the very first hint of straw, I end up with a pretty soft edge. I'm going to harden a piece of scrap and see if it breaks if left untempered. Wouldn't the mild steel in the piece keep it from being brittle. I really don't want to end up with a blade too much softer then it is after I harden it. Please comment.
   - lsundstrom - Saturday, 03/19/05 11:36:04 EST

On natural gas furnaces/forges. Go to www.johnsongas.com and look for the entry for furnaces or bench forges - something like that. In it go to parts. Then use the contact us to ask what specifically you will need to convert it from natural gas to propane. May be only a nozzle change. I have dealt with them several times in the past and have found them to be extremely helpful.

I have natural gas to my shop. Ask the local gas company about putting in a NG forge and was told I had to submit a detailed plan, it required their approval before hook-up and had to have a pilot light ignition system.

Be aware the natural gas pressure coming to a residence may be too low to operate equipment designed for industrial use.


On a bronze swage block for spoon and ladle depressions, project is back on tentitively. Guru mentioned you really don't need to have a ladle depression deep to the final form, but can work it on the sides in a shallower one. By dropping out the deep ladle it reduce the thickness by half or so and, since more space on the block is now freed up, allows for a smaller block also. If two or more can be poured at the same time it drops price down to within reason.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/19/05 13:36:04 EST

Tony Dibor-- Welded Sculpture by Nathan Cabot Hale, Watson-Guptill Publications, NY, 1968, gives detailed and well-illustrated play-by-play on doing human figures, not by forging as you asked about, but using torch and manganese bronze rod, arc, etc. The techniques he shows would work just as well with steel. I think the book is available in updated or reprinted editions via Lindsay, etc.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/19/05 14:43:32 EST

Dylan Carvin,

That little 90 amp wire feed welder won't handle much more than 1/8" steel on its best day. A 200 amp stick welder, on the other hand, will handle material up to 3/8" on a single pass. With multiple passes, you can weld material up to 1" with reliable welds, once you know what you are doing. (Say, after the first 200 pounds of rod you burn.)

The thing you you need to look at critically is the duty cycle of the machine you're considering. There are 90 amp welders and then there are 90 amp welders and not all are created equal, by any means. If the machine says it has a 10% duty cycle at 90 amps, that means it can handle that current level for about six or seven seconds out of a minute. That makes it good for little more than tack welding, in my opinion.

If it had a duty cycle of 40% at 90 amps, and good continuously variable feed rate, came with the inert gas cylinders and regulator, and operated on 110 volts, then it might be a decent machine for light duty tinkering around with sheet metal and very light stock. Of course, if it had those features, it would probably cost twice as much as a 200 amp AC/DC stick welder that would do a vastly greater amount of work.

MIG welders are all the vogue, as they seem easy to use and produce nice looking welds, even in the hands of a complete neophyte. Unfortunately, those "nice looking" welds usually have terrible penetration and break apart at the first sign of stress. Good quality MIG welding is a learned skill just like stick welding, and isn't learned overnight.

So, the short answer to your question is, no that 90 amp wonder won't do what a 200 amp stick welder will do, not by half.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/19/05 16:36:37 EST

I've looked over the page titles "building your first forge" http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/alphsou2.htm
and find excellent information there! Thanks for posting such good info with pictures and parts lists. The only thing I'm unsure of is how to correctly assemble the parts for the burner.
Since proper assembly of the gizmo is fairly important, I'm wondering if you could send the information along to me, or direct me to where it's already posted.
Thanks in advance for your time,
   Max - Saturday, 03/19/05 18:19:00 EST

Last time I converted something from natural gas to propane the propane dealer's shop silver sodered the original holes closed and re-drilled for propane, charged very little to do it too.

Larry what the ratio of the two components?

   Thomas P - Saturday, 03/19/05 20:52:22 EST


The Guru is out of town, he will be back Sunday evening.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/19/05 21:11:20 EST

I asked this before but can't find anywhere if anyone answered this question. "Can brass be hardened by heating it red and quenching it in water or oil"? Thanks
   Wayne - Saturday, 03/19/05 21:53:33 EST

Compressor Size


The bigger hammer should be able to do the same work with fewer hits, so it seems to me the actual air consumption *might* not increase as much as ptree's numbers suggest. On the other hand, if you're expecting to triple your production, you'll almost certainly need three times the air.
   Mike B - Saturday, 03/19/05 22:00:29 EST


No. The process of hardening brass is exactly the opposite of hardening steel. Brass work hardens. When you heat it to a dull red and quench it, you actually anneal it, i.e. you make it softer.
   Paw Paw - Saturday, 03/19/05 22:43:01 EST

Guru; or Anyone: I recently started to rebuild an old style Little Giant 25# with the rear clutch and am not sure how to remove and disassemvle the clutch from the shaft. Do i need to use a gear type pulley to get it off the shaft, do i need to heat it or what? Thanks for the help and the great site with tons of info.
   - Richard - Saturday, 03/19/05 23:17:58 EST

Dylan- I agree with Vic, You should go with the 200 amp buz box.It is cheap & versatile. Down the road, if You want a Mig that will work, save up enough money to buy a 200 to 250 amp unit [a used one in nice shape is fine] by one of the major manufacturers [Lincoln,Miller,Hobart,Esab,orAirco]I have an older Airco 200 with a spool gun, used it today to put a new floor in an aluminum dumptruck bed.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/20/05 00:31:50 EST

This may not be the correct forum for this question...but I have been everywhere looking for an answer. I am looking for advice/information/insight on coloring copper with heat (heat patination). I know what is done - heat the copper to certain temps and produce colors - but it's the technique that has me stumped. I can't seem to get the colors i'm after (ie. deep bue, bright red). I have seen many items on the internet with brilliant colors. I've even asked the artists, but they tell me "trial and error". Any suggestions? (besides trial and error)
   Jason Riddle - Sunday, 03/20/05 03:44:44 EST

Jason Riddle: The more brilliant colors in copper patinas are usually chemical induced, here's a website with 32 formulas for non-ferrus metals.

   AwP - Sunday, 03/20/05 06:44:16 EST

Richard, A seminar on Little Giant rebuilding is going on this very day by way of Sid Suedmeier of Nebraska City, Nebraska. Sid is the one who rebuilds and has parts for Little Giants. If you get in touch, I'm sure he'd share his knowledge with you. www.littlegianthammer.com Phone 402-873-6603.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/20/05 08:50:56 EST

Mike B,
In my post on compressor size, I assumed that, like my upsizing of my own hammer, bigger work would be attempted. While my hammer went from a 32# to a 45#, I also now do bigger stock, and that was the prime reason for the increase. If indeed the increaded ram size on the air hammer improves the work rate, and the running time decreases, then yes the increase in air consumption will be less than the assumed 3 times.
   ptree - Sunday, 03/20/05 10:05:56 EST


I hope I didn't sound like I was disagreeing with you. Just pointing out an assumption you hadn't made explicit.
   Mike B - Sunday, 03/20/05 11:41:22 EST

hey, does anybody know the best way to find pitch and radius of a staircase.. then, how to apply it to the iron rail (bending, rolling, laying-out)... it seems a bit tricky to get it right... or, is there a book out there that has info on this.. i seem to find many books on wood, but none on iron..

thanx .. david
   david - Sunday, 03/20/05 14:44:32 EST

Pitch of staircase-- Measure height from floor to top of next floor, draw a straight line that long on shop floor or to scale on plan, then measure desired height of step from top of tread to top of tread, divide into height from floor to floor to obtain number of risers. Measure tread from outside edge of riser (or imaginary line if open treads) to outside edge of next riser. Multiply that distance by number of risers to obtain total run of stairs. Draw line that distance out from the bottom of the first line, perpendicular to first line. Draw diagonal connecting top of first line to end of second line. That is the pitch. Radius is half the diameter of the trim wall of the stairwell. N.B. Building codes are quite specific re: riser heights and tread widths, distance of railing out from wall, extensions of railing finials past bottom tread and top.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/20/05 17:12:59 EST

Also-- Try to persuade the client to go with a round railing. Much simple-- it's just a hassle keeping the horizontal axis of flat railing level as the railing rises with the pitch. Find out what the building code will allow for diameter or width of railing and make your brackets accordingly. Beware any brackets or finials with crevices (such as one sold by King) that might catch fingers especially one with a ring. Do not allow laborers or carpenters to set brackets. If they do, make them do it at gunpoint. When setting the brackets be extremely careful to plumb up from the same positions vis a vis the nose on each tread or the final pitch will be off. Be sure to factor finish dimension of floor(s) and tread thicknesses into plans.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/20/05 17:46:03 EST

Jock- I got some really good pictures at NC_ABANA meeting
(Big Blu Hammer Mfg) if you want any for your news-
email & I will send--Got quite a few of you on the 155#
Big Blu
   ptpiddler - Sunday, 03/20/05 21:54:34 EST


You have to pull a key on the shaft and the yoke may slip off. If not, you can pull the assembly and press the shaft out. As I recall, the flywheel is behind the yoke and the yoke holds the clutch blocks.
   - HWooldridge - Monday, 03/21/05 00:36:35 EST

I received an e-mail concerning what appears to be a very large auction of antique tools in Indy, IN on March 25 & 26. Don't see a lot of blacksmithing tools, but... Looks like over 1,600 lots over two days, plus parking lot and other dealer sales. If interested just click on my name and request a copy of the e-mail.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/21/05 05:39:00 EST

What is the minimum amperage I need on a Flux Core Wire Feed welder to get a good solid weld on 1/2 inch steel (assuming I'm welding slowly, burning it in as much as I can)?
   Dylan Carvin - Monday, 03/21/05 05:57:15 EST


If you want to weld 1/2" in a single pass, you'd need about 450 amps, I think. I don't know though, if you can get flux-core wire heavy enough to stand that amperage. 1/2" is really big for a MIG weld, unless using automated true MIG (with shielding gas) equipment.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/21/05 08:25:23 EST

This was psoted a couple days ago on the CSI Member's Forum; I'm re-posting it here with permission, since it is right to the point.

>I lucked onto Anvilfire a number of years ago and have been reading it like a book since then, even though I have yet to put hammer to hot metal. Blacksmithing may be my pastime when I retire (probably at the end of the year), but I am a jack of a number of trades and master of none, so I might do something else.

Hard to believe that this valuabe site is not supported better by the smithin' fraternity - there seems to be a lot of lurkers and askers and not many donors. I lurked for a long time before the guilt got too much and I coughed up about $70-80 AU to pay the $50 US CSI fee. Even if I do not ever light the fire, I will have got my money's worth.

All you good people who are in there trying, keep up the good work!

Nice warm day here, on the Tropic of Capricorn - how does T shirt and shorts at 8:25 pm sound to you folks just coming out of winter???!!!


So, join CSI today and keep this site alive and available.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/21/05 08:31:00 EST

I have desired to forge a bed for myself for a long time. I am sure I can figure it. I am looking for a website or someone who has made many that could give me some good directions or ideas/inspiration. I am interested to see the supporting frame structure and attached corners.
   burntforge - Monday, 03/21/05 09:06:54 EST

Burntforge: Check out the books carried by forum advertiser ArtisanIdeas.com. They carry a number of high end books on ornamental furniture and may have something there to inspire you. In the end it will likely be a matter of blending various designs together rather than finding one 'perfect' to you.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/21/05 09:23:10 EST

Burntforge, Just a note re the angle iron supports. On recently manufactured beds, the supports are usually tempered medium carbon steel, but if you can't obtain that, you should overbuild the angle iron in terms of thickness and width. A client once brought me some manufactured "hooks" for the attachment of frame to head and foot verticals, but they were cold formed of 1/8 plate and were too wimpy, so I made him some stronger ones.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/21/05 10:25:59 EST

Wrought Iron Beds: These are a wonderful project because you get to do large architectural type work without dealing with building codes and installation. The design possibilities are unlimited. See our review of the Italian book on beds.

Although you could use standard style steel side rails I would want to do a double rail with decorative elements. Yes they are hidden most of the time but not always. Even if you use a single side rail it doesn't hurt to have a flange with two bolts on each end. At a minimum I would put a decorative texture on these parts.

Often custom beds use bolted assembly with either custom bolts or big hand made wing nuts. Button head socket cap screws look like rivets from a distance and are standard hardware. Think outside the box. Think STRONG. Think of Ulysses who built his bed attached to the biggest oldest fig tree he could find then built his house around THAT for permanence!

As Frank noted don't go by commercial bed hardware. Much of this is carefully engineered for specific applications and is as light as possible. Commercial steel side rails are a medium carbon steel and often rolled with corogations to increase the stiffness (made as CHEAP as possible). If you are making a heavy custom bed then all the rest should match.

Also consider using tubing for the appearance of mass. You could texture or forge large pieces of structural tubing to make bed posts that LOOK like they weigh hundreds of pounds each. Of course everyone knows brass beds are made from thin tubing but you can also forge iron pipe for bed elements to reduce weight. The bed is going to be HEAVY no matter what you do so it doesn't hurt to think about the folks that are going to move it (including YOU in your shop).

Painting and finishing is also wide open. Smiths that never think outside the black box on exterior work often go nuts on beds. Everything from white with guilded highlights to deep candy apple finishes or hand painting is applicable to a bed.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 11:11:24 EST

I have some flat spring steel stock and would like to shape it for some old locks Iam repairing. Is there a faq, book or website where I can learn how to work this stuff. Heating makes it brittle.
   Bob - Monday, 03/21/05 11:36:12 EST

I just used my flypress to straighten out some bed flanges that got pretty badly bent up when my teenage youngest brother and his friends got a bit unruly lately---the modern stuff is not up to the standard of the old stuff!

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/21/05 11:38:44 EST

David-- I didn't mention how to get the pitch into the railing, did I? Sorry.Only way I know is to build yourself a jig: find a section, partial is okay, of hefty-- because you are going to be doing a lot of bending against it-- pipe or cylinder of maybe 1/4-inch or 3/16 plate that is curved on a radius close to the finish diameter of your stairwell. Now weld some L-shaped anchor points onto the curved plate. These should be at least 1/2-inch round stock bent into Ls, the bottom leg just a smidgeon longer than the width of the rail, positioned at the same rise-angle relative to the long axis of the piece of cylinder as the rail is going to beto the floor-- in other words, on the same pitch. Heat the rail stock and bend it, pulling against the anchor points, to fit the curve of the jig. It'll be close enough. Note: you will save yourself a tremendous lot of grief if you can use round stock for the rail. With round, you will not have to try to keep a flat rail flat as it curves and rises at the same time. Do the same layout process for the inside rail, if any. It will rise much more steeply because the treads will be much narrower at the center post.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/21/05 14:52:30 EST

I have recently been forging a bastard sword from 5160 jeep leaf springs on my modest railroad rail anvil and I am concerned about two things. First and foremost, after an hour or so my hands tend to cramp up and my finger joints feel like they decided to be arthritic. It is not a medical issue, I assure you. I am a healthy 19 year old male and there is no reason for me to suspect actual arthritis. The hammer seems to send all the shock from the hammer blows into my poor hand. I am positive that my technique or the lack of a weighty anvil (mine is 50#) is to blame. I am also concerned about how long it took me to forge the preform. I spent two hours by myself with a 2# sledge and another two hours with a friend holding the steel while I struck using a 15# hammer. Keep in mind that the intial steel width was 2" and I had to narrow it down to 1 1/4" at the widest. Is there anything that I can do about these issues? This is the first sword I have made although I have made many knives.
   Matthew Marting - Monday, 03/21/05 15:35:46 EST

Springs: Bob, see our heat treating FAQ and Junkyard steel FAQ.

IF (note BIG IF) your stock is pre-heat treated blue spring steel it is designed to be worked as-is. Being springy it is tough to bend but it WILL bend. The trick is not to do two much tweaking and adjusting. Make a bending jig and guess at the amount of springback. Then adjust the jig so you get the right shape spring from ONE smooth bending action.

IF you must heat the steel then heat treatment will be necessary. In thin sections steels that are listed as water or oil quench will cool fast enough in air to harden and MUST be tempered. That means polishing off the scale and reheating gently until it is back at that spring steel blue. However, that depends on the exact alloy type you are using.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 16:19:11 EST

Sore Arms: Matthew, It is not only anvil size but shape. Even though rail LOOKS like an anvil to the eye of a novice it is almost the worst possible shop for that mass. The rail is also springy which is a different effect than rebound. The efficiency of what you are doing is very low compared to using a bigger anvil that is compact mass.

PAIN is always an issue. You are probably gripping the hammers too tight AND over doing. It takes weeks of daily to build up the specific muscles to where it does not hurt to forge and sometimes years to develope control.

Big flat springs are the wrong place to start. I just forged some knife blanks this weekend from coil spring and the problem was too much width. A 5/8" diameter spring will make a 2 to 2-1/2" wide blade. A 1/2" (23mm) round will make an inch (25mm) wide by 3/16" (6mm) thick rectangular blank and 1-1/2 to 1-3/4" wide diamond cross section blade.

Coil springs are a little of a pain to straighten out but they are much closer to the cross section you need. Instead of reducing the cross section by 75% your energy goes into making the SHAPE.

Now. . I DID have a little help. A 155# BigBLU power hammer which will do this job in a couple heats. But the spring steel was definitely pushing the little hammer when forging long ways on flat dies (lots of area) so we fired up a 350# Chambersburg and forged sword sized pieces and bigger in one heat.

In old time shops when something needed forging with sledges you could have four to fifteen men wielding sledges on ONE part. Dean had 8 guys with 8 to 12 pound sledges heading an oversized "nail" about 2 feet long (1 inch square shank) this weekend. . .

There is doing it by hand and there is doing it by hand.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 16:35:27 EST

Matt M, 1: you are holding the hammer handle too tightly, let the hammer do the work not your hand/arm! 2: way too small an anvil, go to the scrap yard and find a hunk of steel about 150 pounds to use as an anvil you were losing a lot of you energy due to the anvil being so small 3: start with a piece of metal closer in size to what you want to end up with or anneal it and cut the profile with a bandsaw or even a torch---but you will have to cut wide and grind back to clean steel if you use the torch 4: powerhammer or strikers 5: what temp were you forging at? While you don't want to heat it too hot you don't want to be hitting it too cold either!

BTW do you know for sure that jeep leaf springs are 5160 and if so what model year so we can add that specific make/date into the junkyard steel list!

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/21/05 16:39:49 EST

Air Compressor vs Hammer Size/Cap.: Dan, This is a complicated subject. First, some hammers are much more efficient than others. Then you have the size of the reciever (tank) on the compressor. And then you have the hammer size. You also have to consider that compressed air is very inefficient and there are huge HP loses. A direct linked mechanical hammer will run on half the HP of an air hammer so you cannot make a comparison.

The biggest failure people have DIY hammers is inefficiency and too small an air compressor. NOW. . based on what others are doing you small 25 pound hammer should be no problem. In fact you should be able to up up to a 100# on a 5HP compressor IF it is an efficient hammer.

For control information and a CFM calculator see our review of the Mark Linn "Controlling Your Air Hammer" video. The review has a link to the calculator and you might still be able to get the video.

Hammer efficiency is tricky. BigBLU hammers just debue'd a new bigger hammer. It is a 155# hammer with a 3.25" cylinder and 1" shaft. It runs just a LITTLE slower than the 110# but uses less air even though it has a bigger cylinder. A perfect balance. The difference between the 110 and 155 is that the bigger hammer will forge large stock like 1-1/2" (38mm) square as fast as the smaller hammer does 1" square.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 16:41:52 EST

Matthew Marting: I had a similer problem though it only effected my index finger. I've started using a looser grip and it seems to be working (it's still not fully recovered so it's hard to be sure). I have a good sized real anvil, so while your rail probably isn't helping I don't think it's the main culprit, I think it's your grip. Rather then a death grip and directly hitting, use a loose grip and "snap" the hammer, it takes getting used to but it does seem to help.
   AwP - Monday, 03/21/05 17:01:29 EST

Thank You everyone for the bed making info!!
   burntforge - Monday, 03/21/05 17:32:33 EST

Hey another quick questions..

1 how do you tell the differance in brass and bronze?
2 can both be worked the same, or do you have to work one'Hot' and the other cold.

I'm trying to shape a the spoon for a cooking dipper, and my brass or bronze keeps cracking even after a detemper it.
Thanks for all input
   - Timex - Monday, 03/21/05 17:35:55 EST

I have been a blacksmith and metal worker for 25 years. I am currently working on a memorial bench which I plan to sandblast and hopefully color a medium brown. I don't have any experience with color processes and need advice.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Reg
   Reg Page - Monday, 03/21/05 18:11:23 EST

Where is the best place on the internet to buy some steel stock that would be well suited for making knives?
   - trapper - Monday, 03/21/05 18:23:47 EST

Trapper--look up Admiral Steel--they have a good selection of knifemaking steel
   ptpiddler - Monday, 03/21/05 18:28:16 EST

Finishes: Reg, The most inexpensive but durrable finish is powder coating. However, it is brittle, hard to repair and does not provide rust protection. For rust protection you want either hot dip galvanizing OR zinc powder paint as the first coat. Hot dip requires aging OR special etching primer as the next coat. Zinc paint requires a neutral primer. Over these you can apply almost any top coat you want. Automotive lacquer, two part epoxy or brushed on enamel. If it is for outdoor use you want a good colorfast paint with UV resistance. I like automotive paints.

If the bench is goig to be in a high humidity, salt spray or heavy traffic environment then the hot dip galvanizing will prevent rust for decades. In stable dry and low traffic environments you can get similar service from zinc powder paint.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 18:43:25 EST

Pitch of Staircase: David, you measure it. In fact you measure EVERYTHING. You will find that even on new construction in expensive homes that the rise on every stair may be different or that a couple will be off a bunch to make things come out even.

When I build stairs I do the calculations to three decimal places, total up the dimensions in a table and layout from ONE point. Every step is exactly the same rise and run. But from what I have observed carpenters start with some approximate value, round it, build until they have to correct the accumulated error. This means that several steps in every run are out of sink as well as locations of landings. What this means is that you cannot trust anything other than what you measure.

I not only take a lot of measurments and make a layout, those measurments include diagonals for checking squareness. It is common for rooms to be out of square and inch or more or taper by several inches. ASSUME nothing is accurate or true.

To check a radius you strike a straight line across as much of it as you can then accurately measure your line. Divide it by two and then using a square measure the height of the arec from the line. Then go to MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK and find the formulas for cords of a circle. Like measuring a triangle the math can produce only ONE result. But everything relies on accurate masurements.

Another way to check a radius is to bend a wire to fit the match against a series of drawn circles on a board. For up to a 9" radius I made a series of wooden radius gauges. These were cut from 3/8 plywood. They have an arc of about 200 degrees and a drilled hole at the center from which they were laid out. They start where a 4" metal set ends.

You can reverse engineer a radius with a digital camera, the right view with a scale in it and a CAD program or drafting tools and a little trial and error. If your photo has perspective that can be taken out in a graphics editor by stretching until scales on two axiis agree. Digital magic.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 19:14:49 EST

Timex, you can't by looking at it, colour is only an approximation of what's in it. You have to know *what* you have to know how or if it can be cold or hot forged.

How are you annealing it?

Trapper---what continent are you on? Admiral is good for the USA but may not be so good if you are in Australia.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/21/05 19:20:59 EST

Laminated Steels: Larry, You haven't provided enough information on a very technical subject.

You mentioned A-200e, O-1 and then later "mild steel".

When using low carbon steels you need to have laminations fine enough that the carbon migration increases the carbon content in all but the finest line of metal to be left soft. Also remember that carbon migration is depleting the higher carbon of the two alloys, the whole becoming an average.

When forge welding in a gas forge you almost always end up with a thick decarbonized surfact that must be ground off.

Too thick of layers OR decarbonization will result in steel that does not harden well or has soft spots.

Many laminated steel makers use several alloys of nearly the same carbon content to avoid the finness problem. Then all that you worry about is surface decarbonization. The alloys generate the visible patterns and the carbon stays pretty much the same.
   - guru - Monday, 03/21/05 19:40:20 EST

Brass and Bronze-
Brass and Bronze are extremely vague terms- in Reality, we have Copper, and then we have several hundred recipes for copper alloys. Some of them are called Brass, some Bronze, but the only way to know how to work with one is to know what the heck it is. Junkyard red metals (red metals being all the copper alloys) are even worse to try to use than junkyard carbon steels.
Some Brasses have zinc, or lead in them, and will not forge worth a darn. Others have aluminum, or tin, or silicon, or any of several other metals- all affect the ability to forge, the working temp, and the cracking aspect of things. So your only safe course of action is to buy a new piece of material that you KNOW is a particular alloy, one that is forgeable. I recommend silicon bronze, C655, as a good one to start with- it is the most forgiving of the bronzes. It is a dark reddish brown color, though, not the classic bright yellow. You can get it mail order from Alaskan Copper and Brass- google em. There are probably another 50 alloys of bronze that are forgeable- some are harder to work with than others, and all have a pretty narrow working temperature range, so it makes the most sense to look em up in a reference book like the ASM Metals Handbook, which a good library should have- it lists over a hundred bronze alloys, with contents and forgeability and temperature ranges.
   ries - Monday, 03/21/05 20:45:29 EST

Thomas ,

I aneal by heating to a golwing bright red , or brazing temp for copper.
I think that I'm just gonna give up on this peice for now and go with a piece of copper instead.
   - Timex - Monday, 03/21/05 23:50:40 EST

If the treads and risers vary enough to actually throw the pitch of the railing off, seems to me the stairs are inevitably likely to cause a nasty accident, when they catch a person by surprise going up or down-- I HATE stairs like that, or stairs with goofy treads or with odd-height risers!-- and in that case are a lawsuit waiting to happen in this litigious age. I think in that case, I'd advise taking a pass on getting involved in the stairway, period.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/21/05 23:51:08 EST

ries , thank you ,

I didnt know that there was so many types of brass and 'bronze' tonight I'm gonna give in and shell out some cash for a copper plate and use that.
   - Timex - Monday, 03/21/05 23:53:32 EST

I am a jewelry designer working with beads and wire wrapping. I have no experience with metalsmithing but I have an idea to create a specific charm (in the shape of a pear) that I want to pour (I am guessing I would pour it) it myself - not purchase them from someone else...how do I get started?
   Kimberly - Tuesday, 03/22/05 00:33:32 EST

Dylan--A light duty flux core welder won't "burn in" it will just pile up weld metal. For but joints You need to bevel to leave only a small land, and weld from both sides if possible. Not all wires are suited to multiple pass welds, You have to choose carefully if You can't make it in 1 pass. Self shielded wire comes in diameters up to .125" so wire size isn't the problem, current density is.[that is a function of amperage and cross sectional area of the wire] You would need to use at least .045 or better .052 or 1/16 wire to lay in big beads,that will be driving a 250 amp @ 40% duty cycle machine pretty hard. CO2 shilding gas & .045 solid wire would probably perform better, but spatters a lot.I am not going to say You cant weld 1/2" steel with a 115 volt flux core machine, because somebody will do it to prove Me wrong, but short of a light industrial machine like I recommended, You are better off with the 200 amp buz box.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/22/05 00:57:05 EST

Matthew, I have been thinking about this anvil problem recently as well. It seems that the small railroad track anvils do not work well if the size of stock one is working is too large. I find that 5/8" tool steel is challenging to work with on a railroad track anvil, and 1" round is not possible. It seems that it is a matter of technique, but given all the advice that you see, it is probably mostly the fault of the "anvil's" size and shape.

Every now and then, there is some brainstorming about how to construct a substitute anvil to avoid the high prices that used anvils can sell for in some markets. I recall that you are in the Bay Area of California, which is one of the worst. A couple of good ideas are to turn the railroad track on its end, or to find a piece of scrap steel in the shape of a thick bar or block.

I have a new idea. It seems that the main place where these railroad track anvils fall short is in working large stock, either drawing it down or fullering it. They are not all that bad for bending, and the reason that they do not upset well is that their top is curved, not that they are too light. I have had similar problems upsetting on a real anvil, and an upsetting block seems to work better. Punching and drifting seem to go OK on the railroad track anvil as well. The main problem with the railroad track anvil is that it is difficult to achieve the rebound effect (requiring that magic 50 to 1 weight ratio between anvil and hammer) with a 3 pound hammer, or larger. A forging system that does not require the rebound effect is a simple power-type hammer. The reason that I say "power-type" is that treadle hammers are included as well. These do not depend on the high mass ratio rebound effect. It may be less expensive to build a junkyard helve hammer with a lightweight head, similar to the one on the blueprint pages of iforgeiron that would perform drawing out tasks as well or better than a 150 pound anvil/3 pound hammer combination. And, this may even be done with foot power, simplifying the power transmission system.

Does anyone know what kind of hit rate and head/anvil weights are required to match or better the above combo for upgrading from a railroad track anvil? I suspect that a 30 pound head with a 90 pound anvil, foot-powered will provide the necessary improvement, but since I don't have the experience, and I don't know how to do the calculations, I cannot be sure. I may be able to find some people who know enough about rebound mechanics to help me with the latter, but someone in this forum may have a better answer for the former.

Good luck, Matthew, on your project.
   EricC - Tuesday, 03/22/05 04:02:50 EST

Has anybody on here heard of a MacPherson spring hammer? The powder coater here in Australia that I use do a Hot spray Galvinsing which doesn't leave the dags and build up common with hot dip galvinsing. They give a 10 year guarantee on items with this and powdercoating over the top.
   Hotmetal - Tuesday, 03/22/05 06:35:56 EST

Jock-Email headed your way with a few pictures. Subject is Bradley Hammer Rebuild.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 03/22/05 08:26:47 EST

Thanks for your answer. Daryl Meier had sent me some A-200e
and I can't find any information on it. I found a couple of sites on the Net and guess I just could work them because I couldn't ring up a description of it. One guy I called said A-200 is almost pure nickel but he didn't know what the "e" meant. Is this a real identifier of a known steel and could you help me find a description of it. I really want to know what advantage there is in using it over mild steel because it takes a little longer get it to the same dimension as the O-1 I am using. I would like to follow your recommendation on using two steels of the same carbon content. I am fairly confortable with O-1. What would you suggest I mix with it.
By the way, Air Horse One is still kicking.
   - lsundstrom - Tuesday, 03/22/05 09:51:47 EST

EricC: I have been knocking around blacksmithing for 25 years or so. First time I have heard the 50/1 anvil/hammer ratio. Does make sense.

Question: What is FORTAL aluminum? Is it a special type of aluminum or standard aluminum which has been hardened via some method? Seem I recall reading somewhere if it is remelted it loses it hardening, so suspect the latter. If so, how is it hardened?
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/22/05 09:56:25 EST


ASTM A-203E is not pure Ni, but a low carbon steel containing nickel. I believe the typical application is for pressure vessels. In damascus, it is usually used as the "bright" layer. I have used some and found it to be very soft at forging/welding temps. As Jock noted, very thin layers will pick up carbon from the higher carbon elements and you could potentially end up with a overall medium carbon steel. Let us know know the size, #, and alloy of the various steels you are using in your billets and we can help further.

NOTE that Nickel 200 is essentially pure nickel. This will always be a soft layer in billets since it does not absorb carbon and will not harden significantly.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 03/22/05 10:20:55 EST

Treadle vs Undersized Anvil: Eric, Although treadle hammers are great for single blow operations they are not so good for drawing and general forging. Although they can hit relatively hard it DOES still take effort. But in drawing, the long time between blows alows the work to cool and you only get a few blows per heat. The result is a lot of effort AND a lot of heats. You would be trading leg cramps for arm cramps to try to do the drawing operation that started this discussion.

MORE Power! When it comes to forging there is just NO substitute for power be it a dozen strikers, a water powered tilt hammer, a steam/air hammer, a mechanical hammer or a hydraulic press.

The Professional The experianced smith in good shape CAN move an amazing amount of steel in a hurry by hand on a good anvil. The trick to moving metal quickly by hand is speed and accuracy. This comes from years of practice. The lack of ability to move metal quickly is frustrating to newbies and even experianced hobiests that do not forge every day. And you can lose this ability by not forging every day. Using bad tools (IE RR-rail anvil) further multiplies the frustration. And you should NEVER EVER compare what a profesional could demonstrate on a RR-rail anvil to what a newbie is going to be able to do.

Moving Metal
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/22/05 10:45:26 EST

What would be the easiest way to build a forge. Someone told us about a hot water heater? Can you help us? Thanks, Herb.
   Herb - Tuesday, 03/22/05 10:46:15 EST

Does anyone have any information on a #20 Edwards shear? I found one for sale and need to determine if it warrents a drive of a couple of hundred miles each way to go buy.
   - the other dave - Tuesday, 03/22/05 10:47:53 EST

Hey Jock-Just wondering it you recieved the email I sent about the Bradley.

   Patrick Nowak - Tuesday, 03/22/05 10:56:02 EST

Lsundstrom, most guys I know who like a bright line in their patterns will use O-1 and L-6 for a medium contrast and O-1 and 15n20 for a higher contrast without sacrificing hardenability.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/22/05 11:00:10 EST

Flux core welder: I have a Hobart 135 and I love it. I rarely use the Mig, I just run it with flux core. It's very handy to have a welder that can run on a regular outlet. Most of the welds that I do are on light gauge stuff and the wire feed is soooo much easier to control than the stick. For 3/16 and above I use my AC buzzbox but if I had to give up one of the two, I would keep the little Hobart and if I had to weld heavy stuff I would preheat with the torch (or forge) to get good penetration.
   adam - Tuesday, 03/22/05 11:12:15 EST

cool "trick" i just read about: to easily and accurately scribe a center line along the long axis of a bar, use an open end wrench, 1/2 of the width of the bar, and drag it along the edge.
   rugg - Tuesday, 03/22/05 11:21:28 EST

Power hammer vs. Hand Hammer: Eric, these comparisons are not easy to make. Consider my EC-JYH. It is a powder puff when it comes to striking power. I can point a 1" (25mm) bar in the same time as it can. But then it can do another, and another and another. . . all day. My arm has had it after pointing ONE 1" bar. . . In fact, while testing the EC-JYH it appeared to be totaly worthless due to the slow forging speed but then we looked at the stack of 1" bar we had pointed and realized that even a bad machine can easily out work a man.

A lot of people have commented that they can hit harder than a 25# Little Giant. It is true. Even though the power hammer LOOKS like it is moving fast the velocity is not really as high as you think and the human using a relatively small hammer can strike much harder due to the high velocity of that blow. That 25# Little Giant can be out forged by a couple strikers with 10# sledges. But while the strikers are good for a couple heats or even an hour or so the Little Giant can work a 24hr day.

Back to Efficiency: The EC-JYH is a very inefficient machine. Although the shock absorber linkage is easy to build it wastes a lot of energy (that is what they are designed for). To get a blow like an efficient 10# hammer it required a 40# ram. So comparing home built hammer efficiency to commercial hammer efficiency is problematic.

The most efficient power hammer linkage is the Dupont patent toggle linkage such as used by Fairbanks, Bradley, Little Giant and Champion. All other mechanical designs (except Beaudry's) waste energy stopping the upward motion of the ram. The Dupont linkage absorbs that upward energy in the spring and releases it on the downward stroke. This results in a much higher velocity that the crank generates and a much harder blow. Timing is a very important part of this system. The spring must start compressing during the blow and the angle of the toggles be such to lift the the ram after the blow. Without a LOT of trial and error or a LOT of luck the DIY hammer builder is going to miss these timing points and have an inefficient machine.

CONSIDER the Little Giant doing the Little Giant Hula (or "bank tap blues" as Dave Manzer calls it). The crank is going down while the ram is going up and ram trying to go down while the crank is going the opposite. . . This is a result of misadjustment and or a worn spring. Too little spring and too fast of operation and the hammer stops operating even though running at full speed. And THIS is from a professionaly built commericial hammer. . .

So, the only problem we have is rating the capacity of the machine due to design and construction variations (IF the machine works at all). The machine will almost always outwork the man but just how much is the question.

This means that putting a big investment into a JYH or user built hammer is always a gamble. This is especialy true when the JYH builder forgets that the point is to build with junk on hand, not go out and spend a lot of money. I've known people to spend a lot on parts and materials to end up with nothing but an ugly lawn ornament. Meanwhile others can spend nothing and end up with a great little machine. Mechanical skill is a factor but so is LUCK. And the luck factor is what makes these projects a gamble. Luck in finding cheap parts and materials, luck in how they fit and work together.

There are two routes I recommend. A tire hammer like the NC-JYH (Designed by Ray Clontz AKA ptpiddler) or an air hammer (ABANA plans). Either are the most likely to give you a working machine. The air hammer may cost you a little more but is not so subject to luck of the design. They always hit hard.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/22/05 11:36:14 EST

Speaking about JYH investment -

I just got back from the scrapyard, looking for some anvil stock for my JYH. What a difference a couple years make! No more piles to sort through. They accumulate over the week and then cut up and truck away by Tuesday. And if I get the timing right and find something before it's chopped, it'll be $.40 / lb! The boss even said it really wasn't worth it to him to deal with small customers. Too much time invested with not enough return. "It's all economics".

The new steel store near me no longer deals with used steel. They have a sister scrap yard next door who used to supply them with the stuff that was in good condition. That stuff is now gobbled up at the scrap yards and shipped out. They get more than scrap price that way. The sister scrap yard has a portable crusher to take to the car junkyards. Then they bring the crushed cars to their place, where they have two shredders. It all gets shredded, sorted, and then trucked.

And if you go to the fab and machine shops, if they have what you want they'll sell it for what they paid for it. No deals there, either.

Time to save my pennies. It's getting to where new stuff is not much more $$ and way less time consuming.
   - Marc - Tuesday, 03/22/05 12:05:05 EST

Herb *easiest* way is to dig a hole in the yard. Now if you can tell us what skills and stuff you have available we can suggest some more difficult to build but easier to use forges...can you weld or get access to a welder? What kind of stuff do you want to make? What fuel do you want to use? Does it need to be portable?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/22/05 12:36:33 EST

I once saw a photo of a Vietnamese smith making beatiful woodworking chisels. His forge was a hole in the ground with an electric blower. His anvil was a sledge head half buried in the ground. Skinny little guy - perhaps 100# if that - big pile of chisels all beautifully forged.
   adam - Tuesday, 03/22/05 13:02:07 EST

I'm just starting blacksmithing and I'm thinking about making knives. My question is, would wrought iron or tool steel be better for knife blades?
   - trapper - Tuesday, 03/22/05 13:29:08 EST

If I may suggest that before worring about metal choices, that you invest in one or more good bladesmithing books. Then study them and then I expect many if not all your answers will be answered. One of the books I would suggest is the Complete Bladesmith by Dr. Jim Hrisoulas. Also the 50 Dollar blade by Wayne Goddard.
BTW when I say study I really mean study. As there will be a test later. That test is seeing if you can actually make a decent blade after learning the prinicples required.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/22/05 14:08:57 EST


   DAN - Tuesday, 03/22/05 14:15:40 EST

Fortal Aluminum is a brand name for a specific manufacturer of alloy 7075. Its properties are similar to standard 7075, but because there is better than average quality control and hardening, it has about 20% higher tensile and yield strength characteristics. It is only made by one company in France, and there is only one authorised distributor in the US- Superior Die, in Oak Creek Wi.
It is primarily used in the tool and die industry for stamping dies, and for aircraft parts-as it machines very well. It is devilishly expensive, as you might expect. I believe it is made specifically for airbus and mirage fighter jet parts, but some is sold to the market as well. It is definitely forgeable, I am not sure if its a good alloy for casting. You can contact Superior- their website is www.supdie.com
It is one of those "buzz word" materials, where many people get seduced by the reputation, and want to use it for things it is not particularly appropriate for. For the right job, it is great, but it is expensive, in limited supply, and only worth using for certain things.
   - Ries - Tuesday, 03/22/05 14:47:33 EST

I'm getting started in smithing and I want to make knives. My question is, would wrought iron or tool steel be better?
   - trapper - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:35:56 EST

Dan, Please don't yell (ALL CAPS).

Table - Paint it. Oil finishes are a low quality amatuer finish. As soon as you try to improve it by adding waxes and driers you are being an amatuer paint chemist. Buy real paint from the pros. Its better and cheaper.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:37:20 EST

I'm getting started in smithing and I've decided to make knives. My question is would wrought iron or tool steel be better?
   - Griffin - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:38:54 EST

Trapper, Start at the begining with our "Getting Started" article linked at the top and bottom of this page, our home page and FAQ's page.

Wrought iron does not harden and makes poor knives. There are hundreds of tool steels. Most tool steels are good for knives but many require very careful handling and heat treating. You need to study the references and how heat treating works. They will answer thousands of questions. When you have studied a little and need more help or don't understand what you have read please come back and we will try to help you.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:42:59 EST

Sorry for the caps Guru.Our "Visual Mfg" system is caps based, I forget sometimes. Thanks for the tip.

   Dan - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:44:14 EST

I'm just getting started in smithing and I've decided to make knives. My question is, would wrought iron or tool steel be better.
   - trapper - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:45:59 EST

Edwards Shear: Other Dave, Centaur Forge still sells them. Not sure about that specific model. Call and ask about parts, especialy replacement dies.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:46:23 EST

I'm just getting started in blacksmithing and want to make knives. Would wrought iron be suitable for making knife blades?
   trapper - Tuesday, 03/22/05 15:54:04 EST

Dear Guru, I have purchased a Marquette Redi-Spot, Model 24 spot welder. I would like to have this machine checked out and serviced before use. It is also missing the leads to it. Can you help with a Marquette address? If not how about a service center in the St. Louis Mo. area? Please help- Rockin
   Gary Lee Rost - Tuesday, 03/22/05 16:33:04 EST

Patrick and Alan-L,
Think you very kindly for the information. To answer Patrick, the last steel I billited was a peice 0f O-1,
18 inch x 5/4 x 1/8. I cut it into 4 peices and alternated with the A-200e. I got a nice pattern with 252 layers minus those lost to the grind (7x4x3x3) ,four weld cycles. As I said, I thought the blade was alittle soft and you have explained why. Would there be any special considerations in the forge welding or hardening process in using L-6 or 15n20? How do the costs compare?
By the way, I cracked an O-1 / A-200e blade by quenching in H2O. Now there's a sick feeling. I guess that's part of the Blademaking 101 course cost. Peanut oil forever.
   - lsundstrom - Tuesday, 03/22/05 16:48:38 EST

Trapper I don't think the answer has changed since 03/22/05 15:42:59 EST repeating the question isn't going to help.

BTW where are you getting real wrought iron? The stuff they make wrought iron out of nowdays is mild steel. The "real Wrought Iron" is generally scrap that's about 100 years old or older.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/22/05 17:02:23 EST

Trapper/griffin, you've already had two answers. Read up the list!

LSundstrom, I don't know how costs compare as I don't do much pattern-welding myself, but the guys I know who use those metals like them very much. Stick with oil to harden. L-6 is a very tough carbon steel, 15n20 is slightly harder than mild steel as far as I know, which isn't very far! L-6 used to be used for large circular sawblades before carbide-tipped 4140 bacame the usual, and I think it's still the norm for big sawmill-type bandsaws. I don't know what 15n20 is used for, only that it has a high enough nickle content to etch to a bright line.
   Alan-L - Tuesday, 03/22/05 17:03:51 EST

I watched a blacksmith forging a knife from spring steel one time and when he was putting the edge on the knife he kept sprinkling water on the anvil. Any idea why? Thanks.
   MIKE H. - Tuesday, 03/22/05 17:52:23 EST

I heard on the forge a rumour that the site is in trouble and needs money. Is this true? I have sent more people to this site than I have to ABANA.org. I don't want you going under. I built my JYH based on the pictures of the NC-JYH. If it is true, how can I help?
Daniel Kretchmar
   Daniel Kretchmar - Tuesday, 03/22/05 18:03:24 EST

We are ( CSI members) having a board meeting tonight to try and resolve some of the issues. Guru intends that anvilfire become a non-profit group dedicated to the teaching and preserving of metalcraft.
Meeting is at 2130EST in the BUsiness Forum section.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/22/05 18:21:26 EST

the water sprinkled on teh anvil will cause a small steam explosion when the hoit metal is layed down on it properly. This may serve to knock or blow off scale.
I use it as a showbaot way of drawing a crowd. Not sure if it really knocks enough scale off to be worth while.

If you brush anvil off freqyently and hit the blade with a wire brush you will know that it is clean.
   Ralph - Tuesday, 03/22/05 18:24:15 EST

Thomas P,
Hey If u are looking to build a forge on the cheep cheep. u might want to go coal or char coal. I built mine from an abandoned bbq pit. I cut a hole in the bottom roughly 1.5" quare and put a peice or square tubing up the hole with a piece of expanded metal for the 'grill '. from this I duct taped a peice of pvc( thin walled ) to it and heated it with a cig lighter( on full burn) to bend it to shape . From this i trimmed and attached it to a "Fart fan" [ a bath room wall mount fan ]. This is the cheepest mini forge that I've built that holds up.
Opps forgot this part:
fill the bbq pit with sand untill you get to the depth or brim of the expanded metal . This is the floor of the forge. The walls are made of common brick or cinder brick( these will comsume in the heat and need frequent replacement ) I just recently replaced the bricks with steel hard draw pipe that I hot cut and shaped to fit. have fun and any q's e-mail me
   - Timex - Tuesday, 03/22/05 18:43:02 EST

oops again, dmmmn
the above post was headed to 'herb' not Thomas P, sorry
Now to go pay pettance to the fire scale.
   - Timex - Tuesday, 03/22/05 18:45:23 EST

On Junk Yard Hammers.
May I add to the Guru's post that the pivoted spring leaf hammer, as seen on the junk yard hammer catalog of owner built hammers is a very viabl option. The pivoted spring type are very easy to scrounge for. My hammer is currently at45# on the ram, and has been updated to have a compact spare clutch system. It has indeed been a learning experience over the last couple of years, but I have had a power hammer in use for the last couple of years. I have very little money invested, but quite a lot of time. If I were a smith to earn a living instead of a having a hobby that earns its keep, I would have bought an air hammer. But then I enjoy the hunt of the scrounger, and the sastifaction of building my own. Almost anyone with a modicum of mechanical talent, and a welder can build one of these. I did, and although i had some machine work done, Most of the work can be done on a cheap drill press, and a disc grinder. Mine is now up to about $200 invested total I think.
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/22/05 18:47:25 EST

FAO wheelwrights

Ebay item 6164426870 may be of some minor interest, the seller is selling his wheelmaking tools on Ebay over the next few months.
   Bob G - Tuesday, 03/22/05 19:36:43 EST

Sorry, for some reason the question I posted wouldn't show up on my computer so I tried a few more times.
   - trapper - Tuesday, 03/22/05 19:55:26 EST

Thomas P,
To answer your question, I'm getting wrought iron from Real Wrought Iron Company, www.realwroughtiron.com.
   - trapper - Tuesday, 03/22/05 20:01:44 EST

THOMAS P. Don't schedule a trip to pick-up that WI till after we give that anvil bath.BOG
   sandpile - Tuesday, 03/22/05 22:13:33 EST

Ken Scharabok--Heat treated aluminum alloys in general [I dont know the specifics on 7075]are hardened by holding at an elevated temperature for a period of time, which causes expansion of the grain boundrys.As I understand it this expansion strain hardens the alloy. The reason it aneals if You heat and quench, is that when heated the alloys go into solution, and quenching gets the alloy down to a low temperature quickly enough that the boundrys stay small. This is from memory, so it may not be the most acurate description,If anybody can fill BOTH of us in on details I won't be offended.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/22/05 22:17:00 EST

Would cadnium plated perforated steel be unsafe to use for roasting coffee? Someone told me that welding it would be un wise, but coffee roasts at about 500 degrees farenheit. thanks for any help with this
   theron - Tuesday, 03/22/05 22:43:44 EST

Theron - My personal opinion as a metallurgist - DON'T. Cadmium is a particularly nasty metal that you do not want anywhere near food or anything else you ingest or breathe. Traditional finishes for steel cooking/processing implements include tinplate, enamel, oil coated similar to seasoning a cast iron frying pan (wears off & has to be renewed), zinc coated for older items such as meat grinders. At 500 F, zinc will probably fume off, I'd go with plain steel or if you want corrosion resistance stainless.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 03/23/05 00:04:25 EST

Theron, Cadnium is a very toxic heavy metal and is used to protect hardware and various items from rust. Due to its toxicity it has been replaced by zinc for all but some military uses. With heavy metals you do not only worry about it gassing off due to heat but simply being absorbed by organic oils at room temperature. Cooking with cad plated utencils could be deadly. There is no cure for cadnium poisioning and death is the usual result.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/23/05 01:14:32 EST

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