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

This is an archive of posts from March 1 - 7, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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Many thanks to Dave, Allen, John and Guru for all of the fast replies on augering limestone.
I am sitting on solid limestone but I think it's of the softer variety. I used to work at a cement plant where we quarried the rock, crushed it in ball mills with water sand and shale then cooked in in coal fired kilns then crushed it again with gypsum to make the final product "Cememnt".
When quarrying the rock you will find different colored layers which are very different in chemical breackdown as well as moisture and hardness. Some is really soft but is also very sticky. Mixed with water it almost has the consistancy of clay and tends to stop up the mills lines and pumps at the plant.
Anyway I've been successful in augering holes but it takes about an hr to cut a 9" dia. hole 3' deep. I think I'll go to my local welder supply and try to find some carbide containing rods and give that a try.
Thanks again and keep those tips coming. No pun intended!
   Louis - Wednesday, 03/01/06 01:00:38 EST

Spark testing cast iron can ID it fairly well, at least gray cast iron. It is quite distinctive when compared to the plain carbon steels. It has thin, darkish red carrier lines in ordinary shop light (not sunlight). Some of the lines are barely visible. There is a very occasional odd shaped burst at the end of the shower. "Always test the unknown to the known".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/01/06 01:04:40 EST

Where to buy brush/broom for fireplace tools? I've checked out broomshop.com, any others?
   - Andrew - Wednesday, 03/01/06 01:37:04 EST

Brooms Andrew, See our iForge demo on brooms, click on the link and write to Sharron. She makes custom brooms for blacksmiths OR you may find a solution in our demo.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 01:59:10 EST

My folks have an old house (not as old as mine, grin), my dad found some rotting timbers around the house and within the timber was some nails that are quite perplexing, maybe guru might know about this. Apparently the visible head of the nail is the same as any other, but when the wood rots away it reveals something strange; the entire nail is SPIRALLED, within the wood. My dad tells me there was a special tool they used to use that would cause a straight nail to spiral completely at least 3 or 4 complete curls within the wood. How can this happen? Have you heard of this before? I've been making nails from scratch for a while and would like to know how this process happens as I would like to replicate it.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/01/06 09:13:30 EST


For many years, nails have been available with spiral-twist shanks. This is to aid in resisting withdrawal forces. The nails are made this way; as far as I know, there is no "special tool" that creates the twist as the nail is driven in. Logic tells me that a round shanked nail is not going to assume a twist no matter what, and twisting a square shanked nail as it is driven would almost surely result in it following the grain with potentially disastrous results.

There is a technique used by house framers to cause a nail to curve in the wood, to increase following of the grain when toenailing. To do this, the very tip of the nail, perhaps 3/16" in or so, is bent at about a 15° angle before driving it in. That bent tip is aimed longitudinally into the wood when starting the toenail, while the remainder of the nail is still at an angle that allows it to be driven with the hammer. The nail will then follow the curve of the tip, maiking it bend to run down the grain of the wood.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/01/06 10:09:49 EST

More Lathe Questions:

I bought an American Tool Works 16x50 lathe just before Christmas. It did come with quite a bit of tooling, but there a few things that I don't have. I don't have any tooling that fits in the head stock spindle such as a center or collets. How do you figure out the taper of the spindle and tail stock to know which tooling to purchase? I don't know the year the lathe was made, but I suspect early 1900's. It appears to be a "cross-over" type machine in that it has a cone pulley in the head stock, but appears to have been provided with a gear box from the factoroy that allows an electric motor to be used without having to change pulleys. The gear box and motor mount directly above the cone pulley in the head stock.


   Patrick Nowka - Wednesday, 03/01/06 10:20:06 EST

Hmmm, that sounds like it, but if you saw these nails you'd be scratching your heads too. They aren't twisted, they're spiralled. The only thing I can think of that would cause this is if the angle of the nail was bent down at each strike, but how would the end of the nail have a tight curl while the head portion would have a loose curl? I need to get a pic and send it to you so you can see.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/01/06 11:30:43 EST

Cross Over Lathe - Tapers: These were made in the 1930's through 50's. There was an outfit that made retrofit shift lever gear motors specifically for old line shaft drive machine tools. A few manufacturers put them on old style machines before commiting to modernized enclosed designs with electric motors.

There are a number of standard tapers for machine tools (see Machinery's Handbook for details). About the only way to be sure is to try one in the spindle. Morse taper's were the most common and I would try there. They run from little #0 tapers that are about 3/8" at the large end to big #7's that are about 3-1/4" at the big end. Ask someone that has machinery if you can borrow something with a taper that is about the size you have. Shops will often have an old broken tapered shank drill or buggered up sleave they would not mind loaning out.

Another way to check an inside taper is to take a cast of the taper then measure it. Melted sulfur was commonly used for this type of thing because it does not shrink when it freezes. Plaster will do and is more commonly available today. Plug the spindle bore just beyond the taper, fit a cardboard funnel to the front of the spindle, oil the bore lightly and then pour the plaster of Paris. When it has hardened remove and measure. Compare the dimensions to those in Machinery's Handbook. You could do the same with wax but shrinkage and sticking may be a problem.

For measuring these type things a good pair of dial calipers is best. The knife edges work best on tapers and you also need to measure the distance between taking two measurements so that you can calculate the taper per foot (about 5/8" per foot for Morse).

You can also check the tailstock OR even remove the ram and take it to someone that has tapered shank tooling and test it. If the tailstock is a Morse (or Jarno or B&S) taper then the spindle will be the same but larger (on all old lathes).

Old lathes generaly did not use a collet system. The taper in the head stock was for a center as much turning was done between centers, one in the spindle the other in the tailstock. The most precision shaft turning is done this way. Parts with bores were turned on expanding arbors running between centers.

Usualy chucks were used on the threaded spindle. As mentioned above they are readily available new and used but the adaptor flange will need to be made on the lathe itself (unless you are very lucky). Some adaptors are available from chuck manufacturers but I would not count on it.

To make the adaptor start with a block of steel or a cast iron blank. Measure the lathe spindle carefully and check Machinery's Handbook for the thread specs. However, you want to match the spindle threads more than meet a standard. Then,
  • Clamp the blank to the face plate over a thin piece of plywood. This is to protect the end of the spindle nose and the face plate.
  • Face the blank.
  • Drill the bore as large as is reasonable.
  • Bore to the root diameter (with clearance).
  • Chase the internal thread with a 60° V tool in a booring bar.
  • Use the threading tool to make a slight counterbore (pilot) at the thread OD setting and measure across the CB.
  • When you are THINK the thread is correct remove the face plate with the adaptor attached and check the thread fit. If it is too tight you still have a chance to take another light cut by remounting the assembly.
  • When satisfied remove the adaptor from the faceplate and thread the pilot side first onto the spindle.
  • Face the adaptor to thickness and chamfer the thread.
  • If machining from solid machine the back side of the adaptor to the needed flange shape. If machining a blank then face and clean up the back.
  • Turn the OD to fit the back of you chuck. This wants to be a very snug, near interference fit UNLESS the chuck is an adjustable Buck brand chuck (see chuck instructioins or old adaptor). Relieve all but about 3/16" of this surface.
  • Mark the bolt holes using transfer punches.
  • Drill the bolt holes to fit snuggly (about .010 to .015 oversize).
  • Mount the chuck.

If your chuck is a 3 jaw scroll chuck this needs to be done as precise as possible as the pilot fit determines how true the chuck and work runs. If a 4 jaw universal then the fit is not so critical.

This is one of those more technical jobs on a lathe and a tough one to be thrown into as a first project. Carefully read your Machinery's and machine shop manual on chasing internal threads. If you are lucky you will only have to do this once or twice. . .

I was lucky on my big South Bend and my little Craftsman lathes. Both take standard threads and I found nuts to fit the spindles. This makes it easy to make consumable face plates and odd spindle tooling by welding a plate to the nuts. Check your spindle and see if something standard fits. This is an easy way to make a face plate if you do not have one. Otherwise you have to do the threading part of the machining job above on another lathe. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 12:55:51 EST


Thanks for the information on the cast iron spark testing. I'll try a known piece of CI against the "mystery metal."

Still trying to clear things up for Guam from the banks of the Potomac, four years after the typhoon. http://www.nps.gov/wapa/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/01/06 13:01:34 EST

What type of chisel is used for slitting an eye in a 'hawk? Is it just a regular thin hot slitter or does it have rounded corners?
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 03/01/06 13:51:44 EST

Tyler: It has rounded corners and sharp-ish sides. They're easy to make with a tapered shaft, and that way you can also start the drifting with the same tool. You do have to open up the eye a little to get the regular hawk drift in.

When slitting haevy stock like hawks, it helps to drill pilot holes at each end of the slit. If your slitting chisel edges are the least bit asymmetrical the chisel will cut on the diagonal through the stock, coming out the bottom closer to one side than the other. This will make you think impure thoughts and give voice to bad words. Small pilot holes (3/16" or so) will help guide the chisel, and cold-chiselling the starting line for the slit will help as well. If you're really having problems with keeping the slit centered you can even drill the whole thing as a line of smaller holes (1/8" or so) and just slit the web between the holes, but you have more cleanup to do this way.
   Alan-L - Wednesday, 03/01/06 14:08:33 EST

I am building a small homemade forge, how big of a blower will I need, they are rated in CFM's.
   Bercegeay - Wednesday, 03/01/06 15:27:51 EST

Other help:

Many folks slit critical holes from both sides. If the center where they meet is rough it is not critical. This takes another heat and is more steps but if you want true work it is a good way to go. I prefer this rather than drilling holes.

See our iForge demo on punching and slitting. The correct edges for this type thing is shown.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 15:29:47 EST

Blowers: Bercegeay, 140 CFM is about the minimum and 300 the max. Although not given on most small blowers the head or column pressure is more important in forge blowers than specific CFM. Coal, coke and charcoal fires tned to be dense and need the pressure to get air through the fire. Large diameter slow turning blowers are best. Those sold by our advertisers are generally the type you want.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 15:34:52 EST

211 Steel Symbol? Picked up a beer can from the roadside. Steel Reverve Lager. Can has large 211 on it and notes, "The Two Eleven Mark, based on the medieval symbol for steel..."

I did a Google search on 211 steel and it was mostly on the brewing company.

If accurate, what did the 211 represent in Medieval days?

Been on the beer wagon for severals years now, but friends tell me this is a pretty decent beer and black label is slightly better than white label.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/01/06 17:30:40 EST

How do I flatten the top of the anvil I'm fixing. I've got the edges built up, but my main problem is with the face being too rounded.
   Aron Obrecht - Wednesday, 03/01/06 18:08:20 EST

Alright Alan and guru, thanks. I took my Peddinghaus hot slitting chisel tapered it, rounded the corners and beveled the sides. What I did on the sides was put a wide bevel on it that fades back to flat further back. Is this how it is done and will this keep a cold shut from forming?
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 03/01/06 18:46:28 EST

Aron, Hand grinding with a HD angle grinder. Then weld up the flaws and porosity and grind again. Repeat as needed.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 18:55:45 EST

Tyler, I'm not sure what that chisel looks like to start with (thickness and taper). But sounds right.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 18:57:36 EST

Ken the only symbol I know for iron is the circle and arrow the same symbol used to represent the male sex.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 19:08:31 EST


Slit chisels are sharpened with an included angle on the sides and bottom equaling each other. The depth on the sides depends on how deep you're going into the hot steel. The reason for sharpening the sides is to give a thin, slit effect to the workpiece. If the sides were not worked, it would have a cold chisel effect and each end of the cut would be squared up rather that thin and smooth.

The corner radii are there to dissipate heat better than a right angled corner. The latter will heat immediately and roll over, causing difficulty in withdrawing the chisel.

Are you doing the gun barrel method? I like to drive the chisel from both sides. From the first side, go a little more than half way. Go to the other side and try to meet the first cut near the middle.

Schwarzkopf has a nice drawing of a slit chisel, "Plain and Ornamental Forging".
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/01/06 20:10:13 EST


How are the inside radiused corners achieved on say a copper sink. I was thinking with a press brake. This would leave a few areas where you would have to weld. I have tried to weld copper before and I know from experience that it really like to warp when you put the heat to it. I am just baffled how a copper sink is fabricated with radiused corners so cleanly. I know this doesn't really pertain to blacksmithing, but if you could offer some advice I would appreciate it. THank you.
   Josh - Wednesday, 03/01/06 20:30:17 EST

My second paragraph referred to repairing the cast steel anvils for Erie steam powered drop hammers. The anvil on these hammers had the sow block and the side bolsters attached to it. These things are much like an iceburg as about 2/3 of the anvil is out of sight as they go down into the floor to keep the working height from being too high. For reference a 25,000# hammer like the Erie we had had a approx 5' x 5' die block, and was probably about 10' square at the top. At the 50:1 rule that means a 1,250,000 anvil. These were usually in three pieces to allow moving. When onebreaks, the crack repair is a massive job. At the last plant I worked at we had a Mexican location with a cracked 13,000# hammer, and the job was estimated at 6 weeks and about 60003 or weld metal.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/01/06 20:32:27 EST


Those sinks are generally made with a hulking big stamping press and male/female dies. Start with dead soft annealed copper sheet and end up with a full hard copper sink after several hundred tons of pressure is applied. Really deep drawing might take a mid-step annealing and progressive dies.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/01/06 21:31:17 EST

I was going to do the method you described (from each side).What is the gun barrel method? I-forge demo #12, the spike axe, shows Bill Epps' slitting punch. It looks strange. I'll have to make one like that and try it out too.
   - Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 03/01/06 22:02:08 EST

Copper Sink: Vicopper covered it pretty well. Many items are made this way including parts of steel, stainless, copper, brass and more. Depending on the material and depth of draw the dies may do the job in one pass or many. Today the tendancy is to use very special materials and very well designed dies to get parts out in one stroke of the press.

Look at drink cans. These are deep drawn from specialy processed high purity aluminium. Auto body parts and pieces like oil pans and valve covers are deep drawn from steel.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/01/06 23:02:30 EST

Deep drawing:It is done as vicopper stated, there is a restricter or draw ring that confines the material so it doesn't fold at the corners and try to pull multiple thicknesses of material between the punch and die. Crown Cork and Seal in Philly used to make steel beverage cans like the ones commonly made of aluminum now. The first step drew them to about the size and shape of a tunafish can, and the second operation turned them inside out and drew them to full depth, and reduced the wall thickness from .012" to about .004" The second operation is called a reverse redraw, and allows for great reductions. I guess the aluminum ones are done in a similar fashion, but I havn't seen it.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/01/06 23:37:50 EST


There's an appendix by Milford Chandler in Peterson's book, "American Indian Tomahawks". Chandler describes with drawings several methods of making pipe tomahawks. Sometimes, contemporary muzzleloding barrel makers will mistakenly bore off center, or the rifling gets screwed up, and they will sell these octagonal barrels cheaply. The short length near the muzzle becomes the pipe bowl. Just below that, the barrel is flattened enough to close the bore and slit chiseled on edge. It is then drifted. The blade can then be flattened and forge welded together, or a high carbon bit can be laid in and bird's-mouth welded.

Pipe stem hafts and more information on the construction of pipe tomahawks can be obtained through Crazy Crow Trading Post, Pottsboro, Texas. www.crazycrow.com

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/02/06 00:17:05 EST

Hello, I need some help with the gates not hangig. The scroll and hammmerd bars that I used are very heavy specialy in large gates. In the old times they transfer the weight to the floor standing the gate on some kind of pivot, how or weare do I get something like that or make it. Thanks
   Nelson - Thursday, 03/02/06 01:35:44 EST

Hej Guru!
You are quite the know it all !
For fun I can elaborate a bit.
The ancient iron symbol you described is still used widely in Sweden to indicate iron deposits on maps, or just indicate iron in general.
I dont know if its used much outside Sweden or elsewhere in Scandinavia for that matter.
Hundreds of Swedish companies incorporate that symbol into their Logos, Everything from the well known companies Volvo to the neighborhood hardware store.
As well the same Logo is used by astronomy to indicate the planet Mars, I would guess this iron symbol was adopted as the so called 'Red Planet Mars' perhaps thought to be a giant iron deposit.
   - Håkan - Thursday, 03/02/06 02:25:16 EST

Gate Design: Nelson, There are a number of ways to aproach this. The first if using scrolls is to design them such that they create diagonal lines from the top hinge side to the bottom latch side. The small filler scrolls help create these lines. Those that are structural need to be heavier than the others or as heavy as the primary scrolls. The connections of the structural scrolls needs to be strong and tight, adequate to support the entire load of the gate. If done correctly the structural parts of the gate are mearly part of the overall design. In some scroll designs the results are a network of triangles that is very strong.

The other way that sag is addressed is to use a heavy frame. Often small gate frames are made of 1.25" square bar and large gates up to 2" square bar with forged buttressed joints welded or mortised and tenoned together very tightly. The filler elements are considerably lighter and supported by the frame.

Yet another way that is commonly used is to have a solid thin plate pannel at the bottom or middle of the gate. When used at the bottom it looks like a kick plate and at the middle a privacy band or fence rail. The flat plate have great strength in the vertical axis and when suported in the frame acts like a structural beam. Load and deflection of this member can be calculated using classic beam formulae.

Lastly there is the diagonal tension bar. This is usualy a FIX on an old or poorly designed gate. However, some smiths work this into their design as part of the artistic effect.

In good gate design you often see a combination of the above methods. On heavy steel gates there will always be sag and it should be compensated for by building with the ends slightly higher than the supported side OR by putting camber in the frame members. In some cases such as with the solid panel the amount of sag can be calculated and the gate built so that it will hang straight. In other cases it is guessed at or based on experiance.

The emperical way to determine sag without building the gate is to anchor the ends of all the horizontal bars to a heavy bench like a weld platten and then apply the load of the vertical non structural members to the horizontals. The correct way to do this is with the pieces spread along the horizontals (distributed load) but you can get an approximation by using about 1/4 the total weight at the far end (I think - some calculus is needed here). Then measure the sag and build the gate in reverse.

In the heavy frame design you build the frame, add load at the center then check the sag. Adjust the frame accordingly then complete construction.

Some smiths build the gate, hang it, check the sag then bend the entire gate UP to reverse the sag. In this and the heavy frame method above a lot of heating with rosebuds and puching with jackes is required.

The mathematical model for calculating the above is using a beam (the horizontals) supported rigidly at one end with a distributed load. You can use one horizonal and a proportionate amount of the loading elelments to perform this calculation. Calculating sag with diagonal members is more complicated but can be done. However once in the ball park you can just guess and be close enough.

The other aspect of gate design is overal strength. You can assume that SOMEONE will climb or ride any gate. This is the weight of one adult at the end of the gate. Sag is expected but not permanent deformation. Then on large public gates you should assume a riot or a mob storming the gates. Support legs that contact the ground under heavy loading can prevent the hinges from pulling out and the gate from deforming. These legs must be such that they do not interfer with the opening of the gate (flat ground). They are often incorporated into a center lock pin arrangement.

This is where blacksmithing becomes engineering and those days in algebra class were not wasted. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 09:38:27 EST

Iron and Mars These are linked because Mars was the god of war and iron is the primary metal of war (as well as industry). But at the time alchemy was developing iron was used more for weapons and defense than for other purposes. I think that the fact that the planet Mars is red was associated more with the color of blood and thus the association with war but that is only a guess. These associations are MUCH earlier than than the use of alchemal symbols.

On maps in the US there is a little crossed pick ax and shovel symbol used to indicate mines with no differenciation as to the type of metal. In our culture the symbol is thought more of as a sexual symbol and few people know it is the symbol for iron and Mars.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 09:57:43 EST

Just a cautionary note; we also need to be aware that larger iron gates can amass enough weight to injure or kill if they come off of their hinge points. There was a case of this concerning a young girl and an iron gate at a local Quaker cemetery sometime in the 19th century and people still talk about it. Mass has it's dangers, so listen to the Guru and do it right.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/02/06 10:09:11 EST

Reverse Draw: Dave, I had never heard of that. Makes sense as one surface would be stretched more than the other. . maybe. Hmmmm. .. if the first draw is a larger diameter than the second then the flat bottom of the first is wrapped around the die in the second requiring much less stretch of the metal. It could also just be loosening the material on the punch so that it would have less friction on the second pass. . . I'll have to look that one up.

The outfit that makes the majority of the worlds beverage can manufacturing machinery is in my home town of Lynchburg, VA. Never been in the plant or saw the machines operate. I do know that the big breweries have huge wharehouses that hold millions of empty cans one day and they are gone the next. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 10:26:03 EST

Heavy Gates: I am finicky when it comes to anchoring heavy gates. It seems to be normal to have un-reinforced masonry pillars put up before contracting the gates with absolutely no forethought to the loads or how to anchor the gates.

A friend of mine built a pair of gates that weighed over a half ton each. The architect had a sketch of what they wanted but without any structural considerations. The problem with heavy gates of this nature is that they can cause the columns to lean, shifting their footings. Then original gates were part of a wall where many tons of twelve foot high stone and brick would balance the load of the gates. The modern design was for two columns with decorative side supports.

What we recommend and what was built:

A structural beam set in the footings joining the two columns. In the direction the gates would hang open the footings extended under ground and were steel reinforced. Attached to this was two lighter steel verticals with the hinge anchor points welded on. The massive columns were built on this and the gates hung from the internal steel anchors. There was a decorative crest that extended from one column to the other over the gates but as heavy as this was it could not be counted upon for structural support.

Gates often operate on electro mechanical openers and the mechanism is put under the driveway between the columns. All this must be designed into the package.

In Central America where gates are a big part of life and almost every home and business has them it is common to use sliding gates. These have no sagging problem as they run on wheels on the ground and in guides above the gate. Openers are simple garage door types that pull chains hooked to the gate.

However, steel is expensive, cranes hard to come by and labor is relatively cheap. These gates are made largely out of hollow structural tubing and even curved parts made of pipe and tubing. Picketts are most commonly square tubing with the ends flattened and sheared into a flame or spear point. Although not as beautiful as gracefully worked solid steel these gates are light weight and avoid many of the problems of the heavy gate.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 10:52:13 EST


On very heavy gates it makes a great deal of sense to support the hinge side from the ground as much as possible, rather than depend on the withdrawal strength of the hinge pintles in the vertical post or wall. There are a few different ways of doing this.

One fairly common way is to make the vertical element at the hinge side extend to the ground where it becomes a pin-in-a-hole hinge arrangement. Usually a heavy plate is set flush with grade in concrete, with a slightly raised boss that is drilled to accept the pin end of the vertical member. Two hardened bearing washers are used to handle the load friction and kept greased. This will work for years before there is a need to add a washer or two to compensate for wear. The hole for the pin is best if it is bushed with bronze, so it is maintainable.

Another method is to use a thrust bearing on the pivot point. The same sort of thrust bearing as is used on a truck axle works like a charm, provided it is mounted so that is does not get continually filled with water and dirt. The easiest way to do this is to make the pivot axle as part of the base plate set in concrete, and to mount the tapered roller bearing in a race that is built to the bottom of the gate. This keeps it above grade and free of contaminants. It can be equipped with a Zerk fitting for lubrication, too. Study how axle thrust bearings are built and you will see how to build one using parts from the junkyard. Such an arrangement can be built to withstand thousands of pounds of loading and high angular moment forces relatively cheaply.

For exceptionally long and heavy gates, you will very likely have to equip the swinging end of the gate with a caster wheel to take SOME of the load. Do not expectit to take all the load, or the gate will be impossible to swing. When designing the caster wheel, remember that it rolls in a fixed arc, so it must be able to follow that path without scrubbing. This means it has to have either a cambered mount or a cambered tread.

Properly, I suppose I shouldn't call it a caster wheel, since it can't really be castered; it has to have a fixed-axis axle to work well. You can successfully spring-mount a gate caster to accomodate uneven ground, but that somewhat decreases the load it can reasonably bear. It is far better to have the grade surface as truly horizntal and even as possible, but that never happens in real life, does it?
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/02/06 10:53:46 EST

i am trying to find a chemical to rust metal in an accelerated manner. i remember there was an old smithi worked for that had a blue chemical that when applied and left in the sun it would rust in a matter of minutes. i be;lieve it to have been phosphoric acid, but am not sure. if you have the answer do you know if i can find it in comman found chemicals. thanks
   brady foster - Thursday, 03/02/06 11:11:39 EST

Rust finish:
Combine 1 Pint of hydrogen peroxide, 2 tables spoons salt, 1/4 cup vinegar. Mix well intil salt is dissolved, place in a spray bottle. Metal must be cleaned to remove oils and dirt. Then spray or brush a light coat onto the metal and let it work until desired level of rust is achieved.

Jock, great info on gate support. Don't supppose you could post a sketch of that, could you?
   Bob H - Thursday, 03/02/06 12:40:09 EST

Brady, A common rustant is Chlorox bleach. Works pretty fast depending on how dilute and the condition or the steel.

Phosophoric acid turns rust black and leaves some white streaks. On scale is leaves a frosted looking finish. It sold under the brand name Ospho as a paint preprep. It is a fast and dirty prep for painting but not for serious long lasting work.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 12:41:23 EST


An alternative method for "rust" is to apply a stain like mason's cement stain mixed with 10 parts denatured alcohol to 1 part of shellac, allow to dry, then apply contrasting /complimentary rust colors mixed as the base coat, dry overnight, and seal with Krylon clear matte spray. This is an interior finish.

Or, clean and prime bare metal, apply flat black paint, let dry, then highlight textured metal pieces and details with "sandalwood" guilders paste, dry brush or stipple with "rich gold" guilders paste. An acid brush dipped in mineral spirits then the guilders paste works well. Use only a small amount of this color as too much looks gaudy. This is often called "Hollywood Rust".

Buff with a soft shoe brush when dry. Dry overnight. Seal with Krylon clear matte spray. Apply paste wax and buff with soft shoe brush or lint free cloth. This is also an interior finish.

Both of these methods allow control of the finished colors to a high degree and avoid the problems of continued rusting of the metal under the applied finish that may occur with chemical rusting procedures.

These techniques are used in high end custom homes for decorative railings and interior doors, and are pleasing to the architects and designers for custom homes. A tough market to enter, but once established with these key people lots of work should follow. High paying work.

The above courtesy of John Crouchet, Texas Wrought Iron, and the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association as published in The Anvil's Horn, issue no. 119, March 2006.

   Ellen - Thursday, 03/02/06 13:12:46 EST

Buffer Specs: I have a grinder but am looking for a 8inch dedicated buffer to do finish work/polishing on metals. Questions: Rotation speed. Most I see around are spinning around 3450 rpm, would I be better at about 1750 rpm and paying more for it? Also, Horsepower or Amps. Would 3/4 HP do it or do I need more? This is not a commercial shop and won't be running 10 hours a day, but I am getting tired of swapping stones and wire brushes off my 8 inch grinder and want something dedicated since I seem to be using it more and more lately. Thanks in advance. JW
   Jim Warren - Thursday, 03/02/06 14:20:09 EST

Buffer Specs: I mean this as a bench buffer, not a hand held one.
   Jim Warren - Thursday, 03/02/06 14:22:04 EST

"nessesity is the mother of invention" whats the father? no joke I'm realy stumped.
   - packrat - Thursday, 03/02/06 14:26:21 EST

Packrat: I recently heard a bladesmith say it was Frustration.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 03/02/06 14:50:17 EST

Forgot to add, I personally suspect the true culprit is laziness. I submit the television remote as exhibit A. (grin!)
   Alan-L - Thursday, 03/02/06 14:51:38 EST

Just the other day I was Dissing Grizzly tools- but they do make one of the nicest buffers around. The guy who owns Grizzly makes guitars as a hobby, and so he has specialised guitar making power tools made in asia. He keeps one for himself, and puts them in his catalog. Virtually every major american guitar company, including Fender and Gibson, use Grizzly tools. Guitar makers like his variable speed buffers- not cheap, but very good at what they do. Go to www.grizzly.com, and look up tool no. G0530 VS Buffer- 5hp, variable speed from 100rpm to 1500 rpm. Yep, its pricey, but its the ultimate way to go. Now if you arent willing to spend $1400, at least you know what features to work towards.
3450 is way too fast- even 1750 is too fast if your buffing wheel is much bigger than about 4" in diameter.
As the Beastie Boys say- low and slow- that is the tempo.
   - Ries - Thursday, 03/02/06 15:33:54 EST

what is the history of Blacksmithing
   - Red - Thursday, 03/02/06 16:48:40 EST

There's a pretty good video of aluminum cans being drawn near the bottom of the page here: http://blog.nam.org/archives/coolstuffbeingmadecom_weekend_video/ A lot of other videos on interesting subjects too; some are better than others. I won't comment on the site's politics.

   Mike B - Thursday, 03/02/06 17:48:58 EST

Ah, Red, the history of blacksmithing! Laddy, the history of blacksmithing is the history of mankind itself! It is a saga rich in adventure, in daring efforts of herculean labour. Nay, it is an epic set to the music of the anvil! Why, I daresay, it is a tapestry upon which is scriven the very yearning of mankind-- and womankind, too-- to master the unyielding elements and transcend the limits of mortality. Why, Red... but I do go on. I must pause here for my confreres to add their contributions....
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/02/06 19:25:45 EST

I saw a film on high speed headers in the 70'2 and it had a bit on making aluminum pop cans in a high speed cold header. As I recall, it was more of an extrusion process. A disc was throw into the die, and the ram entered the 5/8" deep die, forcing the can wall to extrude between the die and ram. They had to slow the film down a bunch to allow seeing the action as I think I recall something like 3600 cans a hour for the rate. all done cold.
In the forge trade this would be reverse extrusion. My Dad was in the forward extrusion trade for 40+ years. This is where a metal, aluminum in his case is pushed through a die much like a playdough factory toy. This produces things like picture frame moldings, storm window moldings etc. A 6" od billet 36" long would often produce several hundred feet of squiggley extrusion. This was then stretched about 11% by eye producing the straight extrusion.
   ptree - Thursday, 03/02/06 19:34:03 EST

Red: Re the history of blacksmithing. That is a huge question that could take a lot of study. Why do you ask? If this is a homework assignment, we don't do homework here. If not, be more specific, ask a question that covers some tiny aspect of the craft.
   - John Odom - Thursday, 03/02/06 19:39:28 EST

History of Blacksmithing:

To add to what Miles waxed poetically about. . .

It is the history of technology starting with the first tool, the hammer used by the ancestors of humankind to crack nuts and grind grains, and the second tool the lever used to pry rocks out of the ground.

It starts with that first haftless hammer which develops into the true hammer shaped by other stones and hafted on wood with animal sinue. It is the history of metals starting with native metals like copper, silver and gold which could be picked up from the ground and worked with simple tools, especially the hammer. It is the history of metallurgy starting when mankind learned how to extract metals from ores and how to combine metals in the forge. It is the history of tools developed in the bronze age (hammers, anvils, chisels, tongs, files and saws) which were immediately found to be much more durable and useful when made of iron when it became widely available. It is the history of mans development of tools and technology starting with the iron age some 3500 years ago or more and continues to this day.

As Bill Miller wrote
When the first blacksmith began hammering on a hot piece of iron little did he know how he was shaping the future. He forged the tools that made the machines that produce everything mankind has today. The blacksmith was the pioneer of the technology that carried mankind from the iron age to the space age. It can truly be said that the first rocket to the moon was virtually launched from the face of the anvil.

From the Iron Age to the Space Age, the Blacksmith started it all.
If you want to know the history of blacksmithing you must study the history of technology. A good place to start is the Time Life series, The Emergence of Man. Jump forward a few thousand years and follow this with a study of all the illustrations in A Diderot Pictorial Encylopedia of Trades and Industry. After that any book on the history of technology will do. Then read Alex Bealers The Art of Blacksmithing which describes the state of the art in the 19th and early 20th century. See also the Autobiography of James Nasmyth (we have a copy on-line). Any book about James Watt and the Steam Engine is enlightening as are the histories of Eli Whittney.

Enjoy your research fascinating subject

   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 19:57:29 EST

Buffing Speed: It depends on the material being buffed and how the buff is to be used. In the guitar industry mentioned by Ries they buff and polish mostly laquer paint a relatively soft substance. For lacquer you run slow with soft unsewn or loosely sewn cotton buffs. For copper alloys and precious metals you use slightly higher speed and harder buffs with tripoli for cutting and polishing and the super soft buffs for especialy bright finishes using rouge. For hard brass and bronze you use higher speeds and harder wheels with tripoli to cut (reduce the surface of rough castings and such). For steel you use the same setup but with hard emery abrasive and for hard steel diamond powder is sometimes used.

As you can see there are different processes. Cutting is used a lot in industrial polishing operations but it leaves a wavy surface. In custom knifemaking you use other abrasives on hard surfaces to make flat smooth steel which requires little buffing to bring to a bright finish. But you also buff brass, silver epoxies and laquers. All of needs something diferent.

Speeds are best figured in feet per minute. A 6" wheel at 1800 RPM yeilds 2827 feet per minute but a 4" wheel only 1883 and an 8" wheel 5654. This wide range of speeds all from putting your buff on the shaft of a standard motor. I use a 3.5" buff for getting insude candle cups that runs on a 3500 RPM shaft. This yeilds 3207 fpm or a little more than the 6" wheel at 1800 RPM. These ranges cover cutting in steel to light buffing on plastic.

Start with how fast you want to go and work back.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/02/06 21:28:18 EST

Jock-- that was only just the intro. Tell this aspiring acolyte about the major motion picture coming soon to a theater near him, perhaps starring Colin Farrell as you, Brad Pitt as the anvil, Angelina Jolie as Ellen, Wilfred Brimley as the grumpy old codger with the heart of gold, and a cast of thousands, all selflessly sharing the hard-won secrets of their craft....
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/02/06 22:05:14 EST

For impressive deep drawing look at an oxy tank!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/02/06 22:09:29 EST

I want a pitted and rusty finish. Does the above recipe work for pitting too?
   - Rob - Thursday, 03/02/06 22:10:45 EST


For pitting, you need to add one ingredient to that formula: Tincture of Time.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/02/06 22:37:30 EST


If you're referring to the metal finishes I posted above, the object of them is NOT to rust the surface of the metal, but to make it look rusted.
   Ellen - Thursday, 03/02/06 22:40:02 EST

The above question on blacksmithing takes me back to a historical geology class I took at U of A. The final exam had only one question on it: "Discuss the history of the earth throughout geologic time. Include maps, sketches and diagrams where appropriate". Grin! I can't wait to see the move. Can we get Chris Cooper in there somewhere? I enjoyed him in The Patriot and Seabiscuit. I like Brad Pitt, he's real easy to look at......hmmmm.
   Ellen - Thursday, 03/02/06 22:45:44 EST

Ptree: The process You described is how cartrige casings are made, I have heard it called impact extrusion, but that may not be the proper name.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/02/06 23:48:17 EST

Jock: The benifit of the reverse redraw is that the wrinkles dont start to form. The die is cilindrical, the can from the first stage fits snugly over the outside diameter of the die, and the draw radius goes through 180 degrees, from the outside of the die to the inside. I don't remember if there was a draw ring. Only the press that made the first stage was an off the shelf machine, a good sised Minster,probably a couple hundred ton, not that it took all that much, made a bunch of parts per hit and cycled as needed to keep the conveyer belt full. All the rest of the equiptment was custom built off site, perhaps at the plant You mentioned. As the cans were steel, magnets under conveyer belts carried the parts up walls and across the celing. this operation could not have readily changed to aluminum. The Bahamas was still using steel cans in the early '90s, but I havn't seen a new one in a while.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/03/06 00:04:34 EST

Ellen-- absolutely! Cooper made a great sheriff in Lone Star. In this epic, he can be an OSHA inspector who sees the light. Speaking of cinematographic art, there was a nifty anvil-shooting scene in the Reese Witherspoon Alabama flick on ABC tonight. No anvils were harmed.
   Miles Undercut - Friday, 03/03/06 00:07:23 EST

I like the answer someone gave last year as to the history of blacksmithing: "Man has been pounding on metal since the earth was flat" I wish I knew who to credit for that remark.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/03/06 00:13:24 EST

AISI 9260, what specific temperature does this steel loose its magnetic attraction? What is the proper austentizing or hardening temperature for this steel?
   - Andrew T - Friday, 03/03/06 00:14:03 EST

Pitting: The best way to create deep pits in a fairly short period of time is to paint over dirty fluxy rusty scaly steel then scratch and chip the paint and expose to a humid environment. The flux and dirt expand and hold moisture under the paint and you have pits galore. . .

Very strong acid (stronger than you want to handle) is required to create a deep crusty rust fast. Individual deep pits are caused by localized corsion that requires trapped moisture as above.

Back to Ellen's method. Something I repeatedly tell smiths is that the finish is a full HALF of the job, AND if Hollywood can make wood and plaster look like stone, steel or even wrought iron then blacksmiths CERTAINLY should. The finish is part of the art.

To create a pitted finish with paint start with clean steel and cold galvanize it. Then apply a thick coat of red oxide primer (OR a thin coat then a thick coat of gesso). Apply random pits through the primer coat with a sharp pecking hammer or dull chipping hammer. Spray paint with the color of your choice. IF rust red then be sure to use a red top finish NOT primer. Then use hand rubbed tinted varnish or antiqueing paint to highlight the pits with a darker color.

Artists oil colors can also be used but do not produce a very hard finish. I prefer using automotive finishes and combinations of dusting on the paint with a spray gun and hand rubbed finishes. Start with your selected base coat and rub on several thin tinting layers that collect in corners and rough places and in no time you can have a very aged looking finish. Don't forget that fine lichen and mosses grow on painted surfaces. These can be easily replicated with some bright green offspray dusted on at a distance.

You can also go to powder coaters. They have a wide array of textured finishes. I am not crazy about most of them but the are fast, efficient and the average customer loves them.
   - guru - Friday, 03/03/06 00:31:21 EST

Non-Magnetic A2 Point: This is the same for all steels 1425°F. The actual upper transformation transformation temperature Ac3 is higher for low to medium carbon steels 1690°F downward and lower than A2 from about 55 point carbon steel up to 85 point carbon where it is 1350°F spiking back to 1500°F for 90 point carbon steel. 60 point steel is right about at the A2 point.

This silicon alloy steel is hardened by heating to 1600°F and quenching in oil. Temper immediately to a minimum of 300°F or higher.
   - guru - Friday, 03/03/06 00:45:39 EST

I have a welding/brazing question. Got a design using some stainless cable and need to attach end stops that will recieve a small amount of pulling force. Best way, quickest way?


   Jamie - Friday, 03/03/06 01:08:05 EST

Ok .. thank you gurus for all the good advice concerning my interests in metalworking

chuck in omaha
   chuck in omaha - Friday, 03/03/06 02:03:55 EST

Jamie - The best way is to use Nicro Press stop sleves, copper slugs with a hole in them. These are swaged onto the cable with a tool, the simple ones are two blocks of steel with the proper cavity machined into them compressed by bolts that You tighten with a wrench. Another tool looks like a bolt cutter but has the swaging dies in place of cutting blades. These can be found in a GOOD hardware store or atr a marine chandlery. Alternatly You could silver solder a stainless or steel slug over the end of the cable, ot TIG weld the slug to the cable, Both of these methods rate a distant second.
   Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/03/06 02:51:39 EST

Chuck; You're quite welcome. I got your e-mail, so you're welcome twice. (grin)
   3dogs - Friday, 03/03/06 04:27:37 EST

Jamie: Re Cable ends: Dave is right. the welding/brazing is nowhere near as strong as the swaged-on fittings. Welding gives a weakened heat affected zone. Here in Chattanooga the wire-rope dealer from whom I buy my cable will put ends on for only the price of the fittings. For small cables, 1/16", I have made swaging dies to go in a vise grip. I recommend you check with your cable supplier.
   - John Odom - Friday, 03/03/06 08:58:22 EST

Cable Ends:

Way back in my Soap Box Derby Days we used 5/64" stainless aircraft cable for the stearing. This was fastened with crimps made of steel tubing. We used copper at first but it would slip so we had to use steel. Now, you must keep in mind that small 1/4" ID tubing has a relatively thick wall compared to the size of the cable. On larger cable you would need to find something in a thick wall schedule 80 DOM pipe and proportionately heavier as the size goes up.

We started with 5/16" long pieces of the 1/4" tubing with throughly deburred and rounded edges. This was flattened slightly and the two cable ends slipped through. The tube was then flattened with Vise Grips and then the space between the cables crimped with a specially ground chisel with a rounded end like a small fuller. This pushed the cables tightly to the sides and prepared for the next step. Then the whole was folded at this crimp and tightened with a pair of Vise Grips with specially ground jaws.

We put together a LOT of these crimps due to the fact that the stearing cables were small and the connections permanent. If you had to dissassemble the front axel or repair the stearing the crimps were cut off and cables replaced. The cables were also exposed on the early cars and folks were always running into them or stepping on them wrecking the cables. On my last car the cables were enclosed and I only had to install the cables ONCE.

This method only works on small moderately loaded cables but it does work. However, you do have to make your own tools and develop the procedure. Every step had to be perfect in order for the final result to be tight.

Use this method at your own risk. The commercial fasteners Dave recommended will hold until the cable fails if properly installed. Those I have described will not.
   - guru - Friday, 03/03/06 09:11:08 EST

A note on powder coating, We have over 15 different colors and textures that we use. It is an expensive process. The powder suppliers will usually want to produce more than 500 lbs at a time.(it's sold by the pound, $7.00 to $15.00 per lb is common). and you will have a high waste factor don’t count on reclaimed powder to be of much value. Even though powder coating will give a very hard surface, It is not without it's problems. Any edges will have a built up of coverage ( as most paints will)and make it susceptible to flaking or if there are any small crevasses the powder will not flow to the very bottom because of attraction , kind of like cheere-o’s in milk and leave a void at teh bottom that can crush in or pop out leaving a exposed area that will rust. We use a clear powder coat and if someone touches the frames before finishing, we will have a nice protected finger or thumb print of rust under the finish. The only easy what to remove powder coating is by burning it off. We use a very large oven. If you go that route look for a factory or autobody repair shop that may have the type of finish you are looking for. And be willing to finish it for you. Here is a list of powder suppliers that may help you locate someone in your area that they supply.

TCI - 800-533-9067 GA
H.B FULLER 651-236-3700 NC
IFS COATINGS 940-665-8892 TX
NAPPCOTE 818-882-6333 CA
   daveb - Friday, 03/03/06 11:18:38 EST

To Dave Boyer & Ries

Thanks for the information on the lathes. I was not able to get one at the sale but thought you might be interested in what I found out.
The Mysoic Kirloskar’s were definitely made in India. Big plate on side said so.

The Monarch Model: EE, Date Mng: May 1978 was very nice. Had been in classroom setting for all its life and showed little if any wear.
Unfortunately there was a dealer there that got all of them. Obviously he thought they were a good deal, as he was not hesitating to raise the bid, and showed not signs of reaching his limit.
The Kirloskar’s went from 900 too 1200 with a 15% buyer premium. They were in the same room as the Monarch.

The Monarch went for 5500 with the same buyer’s premium. I had an estimate of 600 to 800 to get one moved, so was to rich for my blood.

Thanks again
   David - Friday, 03/03/06 11:48:30 EST

Excuse me, but I was interested in making a sword. I know, it sounds naive, but the interest is still there. I was wondering what tools I would need, and their prices. That, and what materials I would need (what grade steel, etc). Is there a way to make a sword without too much machenery (like as a hobby)?
   Anthony - Friday, 03/03/06 12:00:30 EST

Im sorry, that was stupid, and a waste of time on all involved. I just found the Gen X article, and browsed it. I found that making a sword takes years of work, and that just having the machines wouldn't be enough. I see now that sword making is an art, not a simple hobby. Again, I appologize.
   - Anthony - Friday, 03/03/06 12:13:48 EST

A traditional method to get a heavily rusted and pitted surface was to bury in a manure pile for a while---doesn't work out here as it's too dry you need some chemically active moisture in the pile to do it's dirty work.

Note if you heavily rust and pit a surface you can show that a piece is made from modern steel as the old wrought iron has a different "look" when heavily rusted---one of the methods of identifying WI scrap!

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/03/06 12:33:54 EST

Anthony, it can be done as a hobby but if you want the REAL thing yes it takes years of STUDY.

Machinery is a matter of profitability vs. perserverance. The professional must use machinery to profitable. The hobbiest that is VERY stubborn can produce fantastic work with minimal tools. Castles have been built single handed by a man with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. . . Are you that driven? Power tools make many hobies much more enjoyable and allow us to have a LIFE.

Drive, stubornness and the will to perserve are some of the most important attributes of the hand craftsman. To make a polished surface with nothing but files, a knife and some worn sand paper takes time, patience and that stuborness. To learn to do these things the same way takes the same drive. A large part of my article is to determine if the reader has that drive. Some folks have it, others do not. After reading that article many go full tilt into doing what would look like the impossible to others. That is the drive necessary to do anything well by hand.

   - guru - Friday, 03/03/06 12:41:05 EST

Machine Prices: David, thanks for the report. This is typical of well advertised used equipment auctions. The problem often is that with a well equiped machine a dealer knows he can get his money out of the machine and sell all the extras seperately. On ebay many classic small machines sell as parts because you can easily get ten or twenty times more for the parts than for the whole machine.

Usualy the best deals are from individuals or sales where the machine is out of place and no dealers with deep pockets are there to run up the price. If you keep looking, reading the ads, asking around they show up.
   - guru - Friday, 03/03/06 12:46:50 EST

Most of us probably found your mature response to the Gen-X info quite refreshing. Don't run off too fast. Browse around this site and other sites and take a look what hobby/amateur/part-time/semi-pro smiths have been doing. (You will find some mity-fine knives, for example). You might find blacksmithing to be interesting and challenging. Besides, if you dabble, you will have taken the first steps to making a sword. Sounds like a win-win!!
   - Tom H - Friday, 03/03/06 14:10:02 EST

Does anyone know where i can get the wires to make my own thermocouple? The pre made ones are too expensive
   stroker - Friday, 03/03/06 14:29:59 EST

Anthony: I'm not pretending to be a proffesional blacksmith or bladesmith because I only have abour 5 or 6 months experience, but I will have to disagree with some of the comments posted. I have made knives and swords within half of a week with the hand forging method as oppsed to using heavy machinary. If you would be interested in a business, it would not be impossible to hand forge the swords the old way and still have a business. I'm very sorry if others contrast this, but I have seen it done, and know it can be. My only advice (again, not pretending to be a proffesional) would be to build up stock before trying to sell, as this would give enough time to make more inventory without being sold out and making people have to wait. Again, I'm sorry to anyone who would contrast this, but I have seen it done and I'm trying tp put back as much as I can for everything I have gotten from it.
   - Rob - Friday, 03/03/06 14:32:11 EST


To make your own Type K thermocouple, you just need some Chromel and some Alumel wire and a good way to weld them. Years ago, I use dot weld them using a car battery and mercury. Not sure I'd advise that, today. For Type J and other thermocouples, you'll need to check the appropriate wire types.

As for a source, check with Omega.com (the best, in my opinion) or Thermosensors.com or someone similar. You may have to buy more than you want, though.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/03/06 14:49:29 EST

A swor can be made in fifteen minutes with an angle grinder, a piece of steel, a hunk of wood and some string. will it be a good sword? Absolutely not! A decent sword? No way. Will it be something you can hit a tree with and call a sword? Sure. But that is NOT a real sword. And you would have to be very, very brave to sell a sword that was less than properly made, due to liability concerns. Broken pieces flying off a sword can kill or maim just as easily as an intended strike.

For a bit of background on sword making and what it takes to craft real, sho-nuff first-class swords, check out Dr. Jim Hrisoulas' work at www.atar.com. There aren't many that can honestly claim to be as good as Dr. Jim.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/03/06 14:57:50 EST

Jock. Not MY method. I merely cited information from an article. Lots of ways to skin a cat, some better than others. For interior work I am thinking, but I could be wrong, that the galvanizing and heavy primer coats could obscure the detail and add a lot of time to the process.

Since I'm not interested in doing high end work for custom homes it's all academic to me.
   Ellen - Friday, 03/03/06 15:04:06 EST

Non-Magnetic A-2 Point:

So, if you start with a non-magnetic stainless steel and heat it to 1425 degrees F. does it pull the anvil over to the forge?

Anthony and Ambition:

Swords? I have them, I've used them in reenactment, I've rehilted and repaird them; but really I prefer an axe! Axes are, on the whole, a lot more useful in daily life (in the early medieval period and just this past weekend on the farm) than a sword. Plus, there's good information on axemanking in the iForge section, available throgh the pull-down munue to the upper right. I compare starting out blacksmithing or bladesmithing by making swords to starting out painting with the Sistine Chapel ceiling. It can be done as a fresco, or you can just use a lot of white paint and rollers. Either way, the ceiling gets painted, but one does not compare well to the other. ;-)

"A sword for show, but an axe for dough." (Hagar the Horrible's Handbook for Vikings by Dik Browne)

Sunny and warmer on the banks of the Potomac; I MIGHT finish the final forging on one of the sleighs this weekend!

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 03/03/06 15:55:06 EST

I have a question regarding bladesmithing. I was reading a book and there was a description of a way packing a single edged knife. I understood that you hammered it edge down on the horn, but past that the book was omewhat vague as to how you hammered it back to its original state. If anyone could clear this up I would be grateful
   Booger man - Friday, 03/03/06 16:32:34 EST

Thermocouple Wire; Stoker, The folks at Omega and Chromolox both sell the wire (as well as everything else related to temperature meausrement). Their catalogs are also some of the best technical literature around.

I have bought many thermocouple junctions and the prices seemed very reasonable. I have also made them. To make them you have to weld the special alloy wire using TIG.

On the old thermocouple systems the entire length of wire from the junction to the meter was the chromel/alumel or iron/constantan wires. When the joint failed (burned or corroded off) you trimed the wire and welded them back together. Today they use short thermocouple wire leads, join them to specially balanced wire using special alloy connectors. It saves on wire expense if you are going a long distance but it is an expensive proposition in any case. I prefer the old system but have also used the new on equipment I have built.
   - guru - Friday, 03/03/06 16:41:06 EST

I tried to remove the zinc from a piece of conduit by suspending it in a vinegar solution in a metal container and hooking a battery charger to the conduit and the container. Hooked it up backwards from the way you'd remove rust -- I think negative went to the conduit, but don't quote me on that. Did okay at removing the zinc, but very well at pitting the conduit. The technique may be worth trying if you *want* the pitting.

On cable ends, if you go with TIG, through drill the slug and weld at the end opposite where the cable enters. This should keep the HAZ in pure tension. (Not sure how else you could do it anyway.)
   Mike B - Friday, 03/03/06 17:49:53 EST

Bman I think what you are talking about is the fact that if you pound out the bevel on a single edged knife it curves the blade toward the back resulting in a "banana knife".

One way to avoid this is to take the blade blank before pounding in the bevel and curve it towards the blade edge. Then when you pound out the bevel it *straightens* the knife.

The trick is to judge how much reverse curve to put in the blade to which we say *experience* and knowing that you can straighten a blade merely by putting it edge up on the anvil and gently tapping it back down so doing the pre-curve thing is not necessary and if done you don't have to get it perfect as there are other ways to deal with the problem.

Now the term edge packing to supposidly refine the grain size of the cutting edge was a usefull technique with early steels with only iron and carbon in them. Nowdays modern metallurgy has worked on alloys to reduce grain growth and then to refine it during heat treat.

Many knifemaking books still refer to this centuries old practice not realizing it just doesn't hold true using modern steels.

It does NOT increase the density of the steel---you can't squish atoms tighter than they want to go with a hammer and doing it with a linear accelerator has negative consequence for blade usaibility.

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/03/06 18:55:05 EST

I posted a question a couple of weeks ago about twisting a piece of 1 1/4 inch square stock. It was a great success. It also twisted easier than I thought it would. I used two rosebud torches and fabbed up a four handed wrench.I worked well. I would like to get it chromed when I am done shaping it. How much should I clean it up before I send it to chrome or should I let it to the professionals? Any input would be a great help thanks a lot.
   - Kevin K - Friday, 03/03/06 20:19:45 EST

If you want to rust steel to the point of having pits use liquid nitrogen (the fertilizer not the liquid gas) just rub it on the metal and let it set outside a few days. I am not sure if a recoat would be necessary. I have seen it rust wrenches that were used repairing equipment containing it and left outside in the dew over night.
   Daniel - Friday, 03/03/06 20:22:14 EST

I posrted a question a couple of weeks ago about reverse twisting a piece of 1 1/4 inch square stock. Thanks to your help it was very successful. I used two rosebud torches and a four handed turning wrench I fabbed up. My plan is to make an engine guard for a motorcycle so I would like to get it chromed when I am done shaping it. My Question this time is should I atempt to clean it up or just let it to the professionals at the chrome shop? Any help tin this matter would be a great help.
   Kevin K - Friday, 03/03/06 20:28:33 EST

I have just seen a spare tire power hammer. I have recently completed a tredle hammer and would like to know ifanyone has dwgs or plans available.
   Rick - Friday, 03/03/06 21:51:45 EST

Kevin K,

Plating is pretty much like painting, in that the final finish you get will be a shinier version of what you started with. So if you leave it full of dings, dents, scrapess and scratches, you'll have nice shiny dings, dents, scrapes and scratches. Unless, of course, the plater does a fair amounto f finish sanding and polishing for you. Some will, some won't, but any who will do it will charge you for it.

The best thing to do is talk to the plater and find out how much finish polishing they will do for how much money, then react accordingly.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/03/06 22:39:34 EST

Thomas P
I was just reading out of one of jim hrisoulas's books and it said something about packing the edges by doing this. I jst figured he would know since he has a PhD in metallurgy
   booger man - Friday, 03/03/06 22:49:19 EST

Bman I suggest you read the thread on that over at the swordforum.com bladesmith's cafe (or the metallurgical forum). The gist of it is that 20 years ago Jove nodded.

If all PhD's in metallurgy all agreed on everything my bookshelf would be a lot shorter and a heck of a lot less expensive.

I still think that the Compleat Bladesmith is the best book on forging blades to start with and a true treasure for folks interested in doing swords---a sword is not just an upscaled knife anymore than a jet fighter is an upscaled ultralight.

   Thomas Powers - Friday, 03/03/06 23:19:47 EST

For what it's worth, Dr. Hrisoulas has his Ph.D in metallography rather than metallurgy. I have no real idea what the difference is, though.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/04/06 00:00:23 EST

Kevin K. The polishing is tedious work and will be expensive no matter who does it. If it turns out that You are going to do it Yourself, try all the methods You plan to use on scrap first. It is really easy to lose the edges [round them over more than You want]. You might want to experiment with scrap to understand how much time it will take You so You can better evaluate someone else's quote.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/04/06 00:13:51 EST

metallography vs. metallurgy

Metallography is a specialty within metallurgy where the structures of steel are studied under high powered microscopes, often electron microscopes. I believe Dr.J's Phd is based on his thesis and is not a standard (listed) doctorate.

   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 00:26:40 EST

Packing only works if the steel is not significantly heat treated afterward. In packing the grian of the steel is refined to smaller crystals. In heat treating the grain grows, then shrinks at the upper transformation temperature and can be kept in that condition via properly hardening. Much grain growth can be "cured" by proper heat treating.

Where packing really works is in the rolling of plate and bar where it starts cooling in the rolls and is reduced further as it cools. Plate and bar with very fine grain struucture can be created in this manner (see diagrams in the Steel Rolling Mill plans review). However, mechanical grain reduction is largely undone by heating and forging. Especially if the steel is soaked too long in the forge. That is why many knife makers prefer stock removal. They believe that they preserve the as-rolled condition. However, heat treating undoes much of what the rolling did. But I do believe there is some advantage or rolled and forged items would have no advantage over castings and they DO. There are studies on both sides of the fence (foundries and forges) each claiming the superior product.

Most experts will tell you that the more you know about steel the less you really KNOW.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 00:31:55 EST

Polishing - Clearing Up:

Chrome plate is brighter and a little smoother than the base surface. However if you want a brilliant polish you start with a perfect surface. Plating does not cure surface defects. The original surface may not be polished but it will want to be a perfectly flawless surface finished with 320 and 600 grit Wet-or-Dry. Use it wet. . . After triple plating (copper, nickle, chrome) the chrome is buffed to a bright finish.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 00:36:13 EST

Howdy all, I have something that I could use some help on. I am trying to make my first hammer out of an old car axle. Now, I have a slitting chisel made, and a drift made to the shape of the handle that I am using, which is more of a rectangularish oval. Now what I am having trouble with is finding the right lenght to make the slit. I have looked at the iForge demo Punches II and checked out the formulas given for round and square holes. After playing around with it tonight, I found that these didn't quite work for what I am doing. However, I did get reasonably close to a length that I think will work. I was wondering, though, if there is a formula out there that could help me to determine the proper length so that when I go to put in the eye I won't over or under slit. And yes, I am drilling holes at each end of the slit before I actually do the slitting, which is something else I wanted to ask about. Do the holes need to be a certain diameter so that they will form the proper shape, or will any diameter do?

Like I said, I am trying for my first hammer on my own here. I have made a couple before, but that was with the help of a blacksmith I was visiting at the time. Thus any help you guys and gals can throw my way would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

Ian Wille

   Ian Blueboy Wille - Saturday, 03/04/06 01:55:03 EST

Advantage of forging: This topic came up at the plant with regards to rivet yokes We made to assemble the product. The problem was fatigue. Ours were sawn and machined from S5 forged billets. The question was: Would they have any better fatigue life if forged to net shape? Our lab people who had a lot of fatigue experience with our products felt that the forged billet would make esentially as good a part, only slightly if any less durable than if forged to net shape. However it wes felt that the elongagated grain from rolled bar stock would not be desirable as at some point it would be going across the the "c" shaped part [sawed out of bar not bent to near net shape]. If the yoke was to be cast, it would need to be made from an alloy that has good grain structure in the as cast state [after what ever heat treat it would get]. In some aplications cast 17-4 PH stainless workes, but not in the most heavily stressed designs. In general, if a part was cast from the same material as a forged part, it would not be as strong. There are better and more expensive alloys that give as good a results when cast as a cheaper commonly used alloy do when forged. For a given set of mechanical properties, which method makes the part at the lowest cost depends on the design of the part and which manufacturing method suits it and the quantity of parts to be made. An example is Hofi's hammers. When cast they are of 8650, but the forged ones are not. By the way, in My opinion, We could have greatly extended the fatigue life of the yokes by increasing the hardness to 45RC. The specs called for 37RC, but the heat treat operator took it upon himself to draw them back to 33RC when He realised they were breaking a lot of them. Turns out the extreme breakage He mistook as the yokes being brittle was caused by arcing between the yoke and the product due to a failed grounding strap. Arc welding was done on the same fixture. The arc pits caused localized hardening of the part and a stress riser at the same place. His mis guided attempt at a cure only lowered the tensil and yeild strength of the part, resulting in reduced fatigue life. The heat treat operator did not know how to recognise brittle failure from fatigue failure. The company [Dana] filed chapter 11 today, so who gives a rip now?
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/04/06 03:35:48 EST


I am in the Army and currently deployed to Iraq. I do some smithing and knifemaking on the side of my Army career. I came upon some 1095 steel out here, but its not enough to make a full tang blade, so I want to weld a piece of low carbon on the end with threads to secure the handle. I have no silver solder, but i have access to a TIG welder. Once I weld it together, do I have to normalize it before continuing or will heat treating it in this stage be alright. Also, would a regular mild steel rod work with this or should the filler material be 1095 as well. I appriciate the help.

   army man in iraq - Saturday, 03/04/06 06:53:54 EST

In The Army Now: Well, first off, thank you for your service! Salute!

As long as you set down the back of your blade behind the ricasso, and then tig on your threaded tang, you will be allright. Then tang will recieve less stress than anywhere else on the blade, and low carbon will not be as hard anyway. As far as the joint being normalized, when you harden your blade, the residual heat will should normalize any heat affected zone at your weld.
   Bob H - Saturday, 03/04/06 07:52:07 EST

To Pack, Or Not To Pack, That Is The Question:

I too noticed that in Dr. Jim's fine book. But, alas, like most things, I only glean a little bit off the surface, just enough to get by, and am not bothered by missing the full understanding. So I don't pack.

Although, I did just pack a blade, as an exception to the above. But then again, it was a copper blade, and I work hardened the edge very carefully as my last bit of hammering.
   Bob H - Saturday, 03/04/06 07:57:27 EST

Rick: Clay Spencer (934 Partridge Lane, Murphy, NC 28906) may not have developed the treadle hammer, but he dang sure perfected the use of it. He may not have developed the spare tire hammer, but he is working on improvements and holds seveal workshops a year to where each participant comes home with one. Contact him for the workshop schedule. Likely cheaper (since materials are purchased in bulk) than you would built it on your own. Workshop cost is about $1,300 I believe.
   - Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/04/06 08:02:43 EST

Tire Hammer: One of our regulars here, Ray Clontz, AKA ptpiddler, invented the tire hammer. We have one built by Steve Barringer of the Power Hammer School on our power hammer page catalog of user built and junk yard hammers and I have that hammer in my shop. Many others have built these hammers and Clay has taken on the task of popularizing them and building kits.

So far the hammers I have seen that were built under Clay's direction had some serious design errors. The open space between the ram and the die was far too much. The hammers would work but had to operate at much too fast a speed to make die contact. This means the machine would hit hard but not as hard as it should AND it was not as controlable as it needed to be. On a non-adjustable hammer this means making a set of dies spacer blocks to raise the lower die. These are NOT an option they are an absolute neccessity if the hammer is to be built with tooling space.

Although many people build hammers using the Dupont toggle linkage (it was invented by Phillipe Denery DuPont) most do not understand its dynamics which are very complicated. The only information on this subject that is correct is the Little Giant tune up video by the late Dave Manzer that we sell. Dave spent a greatr deal of time analysing the motion of the Dupont linkage and made science out of the confusion. The Kern Little Giant book is full of errors on this subject (just plain WRONG) as are most other writings on the subject.

If you want to build one of these machines go look closely at others as well as Little Giants in a good state of tune. The Dave Manzer video is also great deal of help.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 09:11:55 EST

Thanks Ken; BAM recently had a workshop for the spare tire p.h. it ran about$1,000 I'm a bit light on funds ( trying to build a shop and go into iron artwork ) I have found a 1.5hp motor and spare tire for free and have access to a scrapyard for most of the structure.I'll try to contact Clay for plans .Again thanks
   Rick - Saturday, 03/04/06 09:25:55 EST

Packed steel and such:

When I was little, I remember my father had a very small knife, it was part of his keychain it was so small. He was so proud of the knife becuase when he bought it, he was told it was made of "dentritic steel". He told me that dentritic steel had the crystals packed together at the edge in a linear fashion. It was the understanding that the steel was SO good that the price of it was so high that the knife had to be made so small. The blade edge is only about 1/2" to 3/4". So, was this a whole bunch of hooey a salesman used to make the sale? Or is there more to this? If it's real, where can I get some?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 03/04/06 10:07:06 EST

Forged vs cast.
In the high pressure valve and fitting industry, forged is seen as the one true path by most. We designed the forge sequence to cause the grain lines to intergrally reinforce the product. This was one of the reasons to forge solid and machine out all the internals. Casting would have much less expensive. The low pressure valve and fitting trade uses cast almost exclusivelly, but in services like city water lines the risks are small, and the service easy.
In most valves, the as forged condition is used. This produces a grain size of about 5, in C-1023, (my memory) if the forge practice is good. In many cases normalized is called out, and some of the less reputable off shore forgers would do "tote normalize". This was to use an insulated tote to catch the forgings and the thought was that they would normalize from the residual heat. Under the scope, we found maybe one grain size improvement, whereas a true normalize gave 2 to 3 grain size improvement.
We had a great display of forged parts, cross sections, polished and etched that showed the grain flow in many of our parts. As I ran the R & D lab, I tested both our and competitor valves and fittings. One of the many tests was a burst test using hydrostatic pressure.
ALL of the forged fittings, from any maker, would swell like a ballon prior to bursting. The burst was usually a crack that allowed the pressure to drop. The cast fittings usually did not swell, burst at a lower pressure, and often failed by losing a significant chunk of the wall. This was all for steam rated fittings, all rated the same.
The valves were an interesting thing to try to pressure fail. I was never able to fail a forging, I was only able to fail the gaskets, as the bolts at the bonnet would stretch and allow the gasket to wash out. As these valves were compliant to standards such as ANSI and ASME and API, the gasket joints were all within a standard design, and they ALL failed at about 17,000 to 19,000 psi cold. Did not seem to matter the pressure class!

I will take forged over cast any day.
   ptree - Saturday, 03/04/06 10:29:50 EST

Spare tire hammers
I converted my belt driven JYH hammer, seen on the power hammer page to tire clutch. I find it a great improvement. I used the spindle hub assemble off a mini van rear axle, as this provides a double tapered bearing arrangement, with seal bearings and a bolt flange to attach the spindle to the hammer frame.
I will be scrapping out a couple of vehicles in the next week or so. This will yeild a number of bearing hub assemblies and tires. I plan on attending the CSI hammer-in, and could bring these for a nominal sell price if someone would like one of these. I also can bring the forge lube I have been sampling people with. I plan to bring one container for the auction. If people will advise I will plan for the right amounts.
   ptree - Saturday, 03/04/06 10:35:37 EST

Metallurgy: Daves story is typical of many metalurgy problems. There is often something going on that is not fully understood and the resulting explanation ends up being incorrect. It is a complicated field and MUCH that was inaccurate was written years ago and is still repeated today.

The forge/swage or not to forge bolt heads and other shoulders has been studied closely and it was found that forged shoulders that are relatively sharp OR or eound then machined are weaker than shoulders that are machined from solid. When a sharp shoulder (small bolt or tennon radius) is forged the grain is pinched creating a weak point. When a large radius shoulder is machined the grain is cut and is either weaker OR shows no improvement over machined from solid. A forged shoulder with a large radius CAN be stronger than machined but is impractical in many applications. Approved rigging eye-bolts have this kind of shoulder and require a VERY large chamfer (two diameters) to thread in flush. This knowledge is the result of some very intense research. The result is that the highest strength super critical bolts are machined from soild, have eliptical shoulder fillets and shanks reduced to the thread root diameter.

On grain flow in forgings I have seen some very odd diagrams that made no sense. When drop forgings are made in closed dies the flow is either in or out of the die and not necessarily along the axis of the part. In order for crank shafts to have proper grain direction they are (or were) made from rolled or forged bar that is then bent to fit the dies that then form the shape shape off axis. Then they would be twisted to offset the throws. . .

To me the greatest benifit of rolling and forging over casting is the reduced defects in the metal. If a piece is cast and has a sand inclusion in it you do not know unless the part is X-rayed which is expensive and rarely done. When a part is forged if there is an inclusion cold shut or shear it often becomes obvious in the forging or fails in forging. Thus a forging is "proved" where a casting is not.

Also as Dave noted there are alloys for forging and alloys for casting and the two are usualy different to get the best results. If you compare the same alloy in a forged part and a cast part one or the other may be significantly better. So proper application of the alloy is essential.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 10:38:09 EST

When working mostly cold, what is better to use as a basic material when curling and dishing- cold roll 4130 annealed steel or hot roll A36 mild steel? I have noticed that hot roll steel is about 1/4 the cost of cold roll which is the main reason I ask. I do have the means to do my own annealing if that is a factor, and I will be working in 14-18 gauge sheet mostly. I plan on making some armor pieces, wind chimes and other crafty things and this is the material that is most accessible to me in small quantities. Is hot roll steel ok, or is cold roll steel the better option? As I do not have much metalurgical knowledge yet, is there something better than these to use and if so where would I get it in quantities 4'x8' dimensions and smaller(either on-line or in the Southern California area)?

Thanks for any help you may provide me.
   - Brian - Saturday, 03/04/06 11:05:56 EST

Brian, The 4130 is a better quality steel that you will find has less variability than the A36. THe annealing is also a plus. Thin hot roll plate is actually worked quite cold and there is little mechanical difference. Most is sold as-rolled. The price difference is in the tighter chemistry and the anneal of the 4130.

Work some of both and see if the price difference is worth it to you. In the 14ga you will probably need to work hot so the price difference may be a waste. But in thicknesses where all the work is done cold the better material may be worth the cost difference.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 11:25:58 EST


I made my first hammer last weekend (I'd practiced on mild steel, but that doesn't count). It was actually pretty challenging. The biggest problem I ran into was getting rid of the original slit marks. I think my chisel was too wide or my drift wasn't wide enough. Anyway, something to watch out for. Good luck!
   Mike Hill - Saturday, 03/04/06 11:39:44 EST

I recently bought a 200lb Chambersburg general utility hammer. It is in like new condition, but came without dies. I have dies being machined from a chunk of 4340. Should I get the finished product hardened, or use the dies in the factory annealed condition? Also, the die faces will be about 4"x7". Should I make combination dies to begin with, an extra top die later, or...? I am new to this and the learning curve is vertical.
   scott wadsworth - Saturday, 03/04/06 12:10:20 EST

Brian- For cold working steel, the guys who do it a lot dont use either cold rolled 4130 or A36- they use a 1020 Aluminum Killed deep drawing alloy.
Unfortunately, this stuff is hard to find-But it sure makes a difference- I can raise a bowl shape with it in half the time you could with A36. And in thicker alloys, 16 ga and up, 4130 is hardly going to move at all.
Your best source for info and techniques and materials is going to be the custom auto industry- They do the same processes, they just end up with different shapes.
I would heartily recommend you buy the book "Fabricators Handbook" by Ron Fournier, HP books. You can usually find a copy of it on ABEbooks.com
Ron is an expert metalshaper- he doesnt make armour, but he certainly could if he wanted- he can effortlessly hammer out any shape possible in sheet metal, and his book covers many subjects very relevant to you, starting with tools, and material selection. Step by step on how to raise sheet metal in compound curves, and much more. He shows the basic hand tools, such as a leather shot bag, a slapper, and hammers, which you will want to start with. He also shows a shop full of $250,000 worth of tools, and I have been in it and watched him work- he can do things in seconds that take mere mortals days.
As for buying deep drawing steel- You can call around steel yards in Socal, but I think you might be better off ordering from Dan Pascoe- he sells small pieces, like 3'x4", that he will UPS to you.
   ries - Saturday, 03/04/06 12:24:54 EST

Soy amigo de Josh Greenwood y vivo en Costa Rica y la pregunta es como podemos viajar a canada a la caniron el proximo 1 de julio ,somos varios herreros que nos dedicamos dia con dia a tratar de rescatar el bello arte de la forja y queremos cultivar mas nuestro conocimiento en este bello arte y aparte de esto darle a nuestro querido memo nuestro herrero mas viejo la oportunidad de poder viajar y a mas herreros y de que demuestre mas sus conocimientos,esperamos su pronta respuesta ,gracias
   Randall Rodriguez Z - Saturday, 03/04/06 13:31:40 EST

I am friend of Josh Greenwood and alive in Costa Rica and the question is like can travel to canada to caniron proximo 1 of July, is several blacksmiths who we dedicated day with day to try to rescue the beautiful art of the forge and want to cultivate but our knowledge in this beautiful art and aside from this to give to our dear memo our old blacksmith him but the opportunity of being able to travel and to but blacksmiths and of which it demonstrates but his knowledge, waited for its quick answer, thanks


Please excuse my machine translation.

Anyone may attend these conferences.

CanIron IV will be in Victoria, B.C. Canada, on/about the long weekend of July 1 (Canada) July 4 (USA) of 2007 (NEXT YEAR). Costs not yet published by much lower than the ABANA conference. The previous conference cost was $355 including means but not a place to stay.

The ABANA conference is Seattle, Washington July 5-8, 2006. The cost to attend the conference is $400 plus $360 for room and meals to stay at the conference host site.

To travel to Canada or the US you will need a passport plus pay the US $100 entry fee if your plane stops in the US. The air fare will cost you about $700. All the flights I looked at stop in the US on the way to Canada. Cost to Seattle would be about the same.

Total cost to go to either of these conferences will be about $1600 USD or 800,000 colones.


Excuse por favor mi traducción automática.

Cualquier persona puede assistir a estas conferencias.

CanIron IV estará en Victoria, B.C. Canadá, on/about el fin de semana largo del de julio 1 (Canadá) de julio el 4 (los E.E.U.U.) de 2007 (el AÑO PRÓXIMO). Costes no todavía publicados por mucho más bajo que la conferencia de ABANA. El coste anterior de la conferencia era $355 incluyendo medios pero no un lugar de permanecer.

La conferencia de ABANA es Seattle, Washington julio 5-8, 2006. El coste para assistir a la conferencia es $400 más $360 para que el sitio y las comidas permanezcan en el sitio del anfitrión de la conferencia.

Para viajar a Canadá o a los E.E.U.U. usted necesitará un pasaporte más paga el honorario de la entrada de los E.E.U.U. $100 si su plano para en los E.E.U.U.. El precio del aire le costará cerca de $700. Todos los vuelos miraba la parada en los E.E.U.U. en la manera a Canadá. El coste a Seattle sería casi igual.

El coste total a ir a cualquiera de estas conferencias será cerca de $1600 USD o 800.000 colones.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 14:26:31 EST

200 Pound Hammer: At this size hammer I would go with flat dies with well radiused edges. Yes, they need to be hardened. Later you may want combination dies but go with flat first as you always need them on this size hammer and make clamp on tooling until you know what you want.

One critical thing about dies in this or any hammer is that you MUST be sure they are tall enough that the hammer is not over traveled. One hard stroke with a die missing, too short or anvil set too low (two piece hammers) and the machine will be wrecked.

Clamp on tooling just clamps around the die or bolts to a bracket fixed to the hammer. You can use plain bottom dies or spring clapper die pairs. This give you great flexibility.

For drawing long tapers on a power hammer you do not use the typical radiused combination die, you work on the flat with radiused edges. The edge radius on power hammer dies is actually an ellipse with the flatter part on the face of the dies. When drawing you work on this radiused edge. The curve of the edge gives you surfaces that match almost any taper from a short 45° point to long scroll or wedge tapers. Feeding the work consistantly across the dies produces a relatively smooth straight line with a little wavyness.

Combination dies such as they use on the Big BLU do not have the usual radiused top that has been common for many years but rather a narrow face for heavy drawing and getting into tight work. This has been around for a while but with too sharp of edges. By radiusing the edges of the narrow section you get a form close to the radiused top but still have a continous flat die surface.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 15:16:40 EST

You do *NOT* want to make "using" armor out of deep drawing steels. You need somethingthat will work harden and prevent incurable dents from being inflicted on the person wearing it.

If you plan to heat treat it you will need a higher alloy steel but I suggest you become familiar with the craft before opening that can of worms.

Rather than refer you to the custom car folk for info on making armor, may I refer you to the people making armor---many of them doing it as a living? armourarchive.org is a series of forums with a wealth of info on tools, materials, *patterns*, tips, etc. Note the english spelling of armour in it's url

Most car work is done with material much thinner than using armour which works differently too---for some processes heavier is *easier* to work, for others it's harder. Tooling is often heavier for armour working as well---lestwise all the custom car folk I know of look at a 5# domefaced hammer and say "what the heck is that for?!"

   Thomas P - Saturday, 03/04/06 15:33:52 EST

Can you explain to me the difference between the "High Alumina" products
and the insulating products? I've to build up a gas forge.

The alumina i've tried (80%) is not the best because it seems not responding
well to the flame/heating so the forge doesn't reach the temperature i want.

I've tried also with ITC100 product but it doesn't help a lot...

Insulating bricks are very good for the heat increasing but they soffer
melted metal that sometime falls in the internal chamber.

Could i try with ITC100 in the internal chamber of the insulating brick forge?

should the ITC100 cut down the insulating properties of insulating bricks?

What do you suggest to make a propane forge that reaches 1400°C?
I'll make damascus steel so.....

Thanks for the help
   Bicio - Saturday, 03/04/06 15:39:27 EST

SGT K: I have no answer for your question, but I can't pass up the chance. Thank you for your service in the Army!
   - Rob - Saturday, 03/04/06 15:42:28 EST

Recently purchased an 2 burner LP gas forge (atmospheric) from a place called Diamonback Iron Works that I had found on the web. The forge can be seen at www.diamondbackironworks.com. Based on what I had read here I coated the interior with ITC-100. Burners worked fine through fiddling with the forge and curing the ITC. Also added an idle circuit that I had seen on ABANA's web site. Finally warmed up enough here (Wisconsin) to try out the forge and it isn't behaving properly. When I fired it up, the flame remained in the tube of one of the burners even if I increased the pressure past 10 psi. Even if I completely choked the burner that was operating properly, I still only got a large yellow flame to exit the second burner. Any ideas of things I might try to correct this? Is it possible that the portion of the gas line that goes to the problem burner has somehow gotten some sort of an obstruction in it? I have written the builder but I thought I might get a quicker answer here. Thanks.
   - RFG - Saturday, 03/04/06 15:49:20 EST

Thomas- I was assuming, I guess incorrectly, that the average armor made these days is not actually used in battle.
The custom car guys I know use 5lb hammers- and just about every other tool known to man, as some of them are doing things in stainless steel.
And I still say that the basic principles of moving sheet metal are very well explained in the book by Ron Fournier.

Learning to move the metal first, before trying to make perfect, thick and heavy sword proof armour would make sense to me- in fact, if it was me, I would work out the forms I wanted first in aluminum, then move to steel. Or bronze, as the doctor from LA who is making Roman armour wants to do.

But I definitely demur to your superiour knowledge of actual working armour.
The only actual armour I have made was a Ghengis Khan style helm for my son for Historical Halloween.
   ries - Saturday, 03/04/06 16:24:31 EST

Forge Problem: RFG, When you added that idle circuit did you use teflon tape? If you did there is a good chance some got in the lines. I love the stuff but it is a disaster on anything with small orifices that can get clogged. The fine strands get into everything and like to hang on burrs and twirl in the gas flow making wonderful whistling noises.

Other obstructions. . . wasps and spiders love building nests in those nice warm dry burner tubes. Mice and birds love nesting in unused forges and both nibble Kaowool despite the ITC coating. . .

THEN. . the GOOD ones. Wasps, particularly mud-daubers like to build nests in pipes and tubes with 1/4" bores. If gas equipment is left for a few days with the hoses off and unplugged they will build nests. Where the real damage comes in is that the mud dauber mud contains fine gritty sand which wrecks valve seats and packing.

I do not recommend changing the plumbing on any manufactured product. Besides possibly causing problems it also voided any warantee or responsibility of the maker. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/04/06 17:22:06 EST

TGN: Dendrites are what forms when CAST steel solidifies. The dendrites are areas of high or low (depending on the element in question) alloy concentration. They look like a childs "jacks" only infinitely smaller. They are usually a carbide when we are talking knife steels and they do improve abrasion resistance. They form in response to the direction of heat removal during cooling. It is not edge packing. However, the blade is still a casting and may not have the ductility of a forged blade. Many years ago, a knifemaker by the name of David Boye introduced "dentritic" steel in integral knife blades. It was a new application of a very well known phenomenon.

Metallography vs Metallurgy: Dr. Hrisoulas and I went to the same college for BS and MS. He studied metallurgy prior to specializing in metallography. Metallography is more correctly the preparation of the samples and their study by microscopic means. The use of various abrasive methods and the application of various chemicals to reveal the grains and other phases is the heart of metallography. When you see the patterns on his knives, you can see where his expertise in metallography comes in.

Edge packing: are we talking cold work here? Some folks try to tell us they are packing the atoms closer together. This is simply impossible as the atomic forces repel similarly charged atoms and they cannot be forced closer together. However, cold working is a common metalworking teechnique.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/04/06 18:25:29 EST

To quote Dr. Jim,
Somewhere, a long time ago someone said that it works due to "packing the atoms closer together".. This is wrong, dead wrong, you cannot get atoms closer together with a hand hammer. Not on this planet anyway.

(Funny note here: it has been attributed to me starting this...not hardly, I haver never said anything like that.)

   - Ntech - Saturday, 03/04/06 18:48:30 EST

Guru: Yes I did use teflon tape in the added idle circuit, but it was also used in the construction of the forge.

Didn't really change the plumbing on the forge itself. The idle cicuit was added in between the existing plumbing for the forge and the LP supply line.

So, any recommendations other than disassembly of the burner?
   rfg - Saturday, 03/04/06 19:08:59 EST

army man in iraq ..... Email me your address and I'll be glad to send you a chunk of 5160 suitable for a good size knife....also Bill Moran arc welded threaded rod to his blades....Take care and Good Luck

   - arthur - Saturday, 03/04/06 19:35:02 EST

Southern Crescent anvils:

Has anybody come across Southern Crescent anvils? See ebay item 7596721237
   Bob G - Saturday, 03/04/06 20:06:00 EST

To Sgt K: email me your address and I will send you a chunk of 1/4" thick or 3/16 thick 0-1 X 1 3/4" wide in a knife sized length. Let me know your preference. And, THANK YOU!
   Ellen - Saturday, 03/04/06 21:06:39 EST


I looked at those forges, and my guess is that the offending burner has the orifice out of line with the burner tube. Take the burners out of the forge shell and hook them up so you can run water through them. You should see a perfect thin stream of water going down the center of each burner tube; if you don't, then you know the problem is in the orifice. That's my guess, as having the orifice misdirected will dramatically reduce the venturi effect making the burner run too rich, which is the problem you're describing.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/04/06 21:10:33 EST

Hi guys,
If I wanted to use a electric blower for my forge that normally wouldn't be used that way, what kinds of specs do I want for the blower:
CFM, HP, Volts, ect.?
What would be appropriate?
   Kevin - Saturday, 03/04/06 21:12:15 EST

I have an inexpensive Clarke flux core wire welder. Today the wire stopped advancing while I was sticking a handle onto something I wanted to forge. I used a pair of pliers to pull it out some. I figured it had just kinked or something. When I next hit the trigger the wire from the guides back to the spool melted. What happened?
   John W - Saturday, 03/04/06 21:33:02 EST

Thanks for the elusive links Thomas P. and ries. My sluggish 56k search ability has hampered me a bit in my search for info.

Oddly enough, I made a pair of finger gauntlets out of aluminum about 10 years ago(my brother had multiple 4'x8' sheets in various gauges for pro street auto body work). My techniques were off a bit(the gauntlets attached impermanently to a pair of gloves using loops of leather around each finger and one belted strap for the wrist), but they looked pretty good. Except for that odd aluminum color. I have the bug again to do something a bit different though, and in steel.

Anvilfire has answered many of my initial questions so far in regards to tools, anvils, and many other things. As I graduate to working in steel, the more info the better I say, so my thanks to all who offer it here.
   - Brian - Saturday, 03/04/06 21:33:28 EST

I assume you are going to use steel for the guard?? If so you can tig it. Go ahead and do your heat-treating after the guard and bolt are welded on. Make sure you remmeber to put the guard on first.Grin Don't laugh, I have done it.grin. I would leave a pretty good ricasso area in front of the guard

If I can be of any help-- hollerchuck
   sandpile - Saturday, 03/04/06 22:59:07 EST

SGT. K I did not read the part about the normalizing.. Yes you should normalize and anneal before starting the hardening and tempering. To normalize I take it above magnettic and let it cool completely two or three time then anneal it. Do you have access to any vermiculite or ashes or clay kitty litter? If so take it back fifty or so degrees above nonmag(good orange). and stuff down in the ashes or kitty litter. Letting it cool over night.

   sandpile - Saturday, 03/04/06 23:13:02 EST

I need a refresher course on how to identify used gas bottles as private or rentals. When I worked at a farm supply store oxygen bottles in the 122(125) or 276 size could be either/or and the other sizes 20,40,60,80,150,251 were not rented. And I wanna say # 3 acetylene could be rentals or privates depending on their "ring" and all the rest were private only. Any help would be appreciated. Donovan
   Donovan - Sunday, 03/05/06 00:21:43 EST

John W: I qwill take a guess - Posibly the wire got off the spool and wound around the shaft that holds the spool, causing the first problem. The wire melting was caused by the wire contacting some part of the machine that is connected to the ground side of the transformer. The work ground SHOULD be isolated from the chassis ground [housing]of the machine. Possibly the wire got in contact with the polarity reversal conections, I don't know what the inside of Your machine looks like. Keeping suficient tension on the drag to keep the spool from alowing the wire to go slack keeps the wire from touching anything between the guide and spool.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/05/06 00:33:31 EST

Bob G. Southern Crescents were made by the Southern Skein & Foundry Company of Chattanooga, TN. Richard Postman, in Anvils in America, said he has not been able to determined when they started or stopped making anvils.

Anvils had a cast iron body with a steel plate and very comparable to Fishers from what I have seen.

I am probably wrong, but I suspect the Southern Crescent had something to do with an arc of southern manufacturing cites, perhaps Birmingham, Chattanooga and Atlanta.

The Skein in the name refers to cast iron wagon wheel hubs, once a production item apparently at a number of foundries. As such, company was likely in business long before automobiles took over from wagons.
   - Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/05/06 00:39:23 EST

Donovan: In the old days a customer owned cilinder would say customer owned on the neck ring, cilinders owned by a gas company would just have the name of the gas company. Nowdays companies have been sold, merged or taken over by other companies and May exchange a customer owned cilinder for one that isn't marked as customer owned, so all bets are off. As You mentioned the smaller cilinders are usually customer owned, and some gas companies are reluctant to sell even an 80 CuFt cilinder.High pressure cilinders up to 125 and acetylene cilinders up to No 4 can be customer owned,high pressure cilinders 125 and up and acc. sizes 3 and up can be leased, at least where I live. If You own Your cilinders some form of proof of purchase, or a recipit showing a previous exchange is a good idea if You have it.If You are a regular customer of the gas company You are less likely to have problems exchanging cilinders.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/05/06 00:56:53 EST

Bicio: I am presently building an experimental gas forge allso. I made a liner 1/2" to 3/4" thick from 65% alumina refractory cement with an insulating layer 2" to 2 1/2" thick of low density refractory cement mixed with vermiculite 1 part cement to 2 parts vermiculite by volume. This is just enough cement to keep the vermiculite from falling away from the liner, I don't know yet how well it will insulate, I havn't fired it enough to drive all the water from the vermiculite/cement layer yet. Mineral fiber coated with ITC100 would come up to temperature much faster due to its better insulating charecteristics and greatly reduced thermal mass, but would not be as durable. 1400C is pretty hot, I don't know if all mineral fiber will stand that, I think it comes in several grades.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/05/06 01:20:08 EST

VICOPPER: I think the alignment is OK because both burners were operating properly before today. I think Guru was correct when he thought the orifice is being blocked by some of the teflon tape that came off from some other portion of the plumbing. Just not at all sure what to do about it now.
   rfg - Sunday, 03/05/06 02:01:29 EST

Southern Cresent, (e-bay7596721237)
This model is my primary anvil right now. Aside from the horn is a bit odd (for me that is) Its a definite flatness on top and sort of a bulging middle, Where I would prefer a true conical and round horn. I expect this sort of horn is best in terms of durability for it being just cast iron with an armoured top plate.
Its a good anvil for sure, But I would say its a "low end" anvil, Not intended for professional Blacksmith where its used constantly. But for the general workshops where a good and functional anvil is needed but only on occasion. In fact mine came from a Machine and 'Fab shop where it had been over 40 years.

BTW, Here is a good deal on new tongs. www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=243502
They say they are used, and 15 dollars is steep for used tongs, But I find they often get their descriptions wrong ("Horseshoe pincers" Ha!!)
I bought several, They are NOS still packed in grease, (even included a chain ring for locking the reins).
Determined from their packaging, definitely surplus from the Dutch.
I spent the day reforging jaws into different styles...
   - Sven - Sunday, 03/05/06 04:25:57 EST

rfg: If it were My problem I would remove the gas hose and blow the system out with compressed air, FROM THE ORFICE [burner] END. Then re-assemble and try again. If that doesn't work take it apart untill You find the problem.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/05/06 05:23:09 EST

On skeins: Correction: The skein is the hollow metal cone or mandrel around which the wagon wheel hub rotates. I have seen them used as blacksmithing mandrels with the addition of a shaft.

Wheelwrights are few and far between these days and the wheels rather costly. Most of the Amish in this area have gone to motorcycle tires assemblies.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/05/06 07:23:59 EST

Thanks Dave. Everything looks ok inside. I didnt see a coil off the spool but I was a little focused by the glowing wire and flame off of the plastic guide. I just popped the wall plug and pulled the burning bits out. Thanks for the advice. I will check a little more before I restart it.
   John W - Sunday, 03/05/06 10:04:15 EST

Sandpile,Chuck, Cowboy, Pardner:
Did I get em all? Hey, why do you suggest having a steel guard in place before heat treating? Not having your experience, I would heat treat, then solder the guard on. For one thing, I don't have a mig. So, can you explain, Compardre?
   Bob H - Sunday, 03/05/06 11:20:14 EST

Welder Short: John, You may have some really odd problem. For the wire to short BACK to the spool then there is deffinitely something grounded that should not be or something hot that should not be.

The machine housing is normally grounded but not to the output side of the transformer. The feed spool and rolls should be isolated from grounds by plastic gears and isolation bushings. Shorts at this point can fry the DC servo motor and control circuits.

Good luck finding the problem. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/05/06 12:54:51 EST

There is a non-insulated nut on the inside of the spool compartment. It looks like the best culprit. Everything else is plastic. I will put some plastic-grip on it.
   John W - Sunday, 03/05/06 14:31:59 EST

Normalizing and annealing: OK, normalizing breaks down the carbides, diffusing the carbon uniformly throughout the steel. This is good because it results in uniform hardening, less distortion and higher as-quenched hardness. Annealing allows the carbon to collect together, removing it from the steel and concentrating it in large carbides. This can result in spotty hardness, more distortion and lower as-quenched hardness. So why would you anneal after you go to all the trouble to normalize 2-3 times? Anneal it first, do your hand work, then normalize it and you get the full benefits of both. :-)
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/05/06 15:35:51 EST

RFG, I have a Forgemaster propane forge from Centair. It has two burner tubes, one of which has a swing out choke plate. When I start it cold it invariably burns inside the choked tube (not enough air flow to blow the flame front into the main chamber). I have a 3/8 “plastic hose 3’ long behind the forge that I stick the end of into the offending burner tube and blow into. This blows the flame into the main chamber and everything is great from there on. It has done this since it was new and seems to be a quirk. Other than that it’s a wonderful forge with very good gas economy
   Mani De Mers - Sunday, 03/05/06 15:43:25 EST

Welder Problem: John, I would be carefully checking everything with a VOM for continuity or lack of as needed. Do you have the machine manual? They often indicate which parts are insulated from others.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/05/06 17:01:51 EST

Is there something wrong with the drop down menu on the upper right? I notice it is appearing as only a small square and nothing is listed inside the menu. I have noticed this now for a few days. I am viewing through IE.
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 03/05/06 17:21:57 EST

I think the Guruissimo is right: a friend and I built a couple of propane forges, had what sounds like the exact same problem-- big fluffy yellow flame, could no way achieve a neutral burn-- until I discovered eency tendrils of Teflon tape had gunked up the jets. Removed it and problem solved. Don't see why Teflon is necessary up near the burners in the first place. FYI-- cooking Teflon in propane produces especially nasty fumes. Keep the door open.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/05/06 18:24:36 EST

I have written to the mfg. Then I will get out the meter. Thanks.
   John W - Sunday, 03/05/06 18:28:58 EST

Menu Errors: Burnt, You have a cached copy of a script or page fragment that did not load.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/05/06 18:33:19 EST

Mani de Mers, I had the samew problem with mine. Steve kayne's son researched the problem and found three things: the regulator has to be cranked up above 10 psi, the brass knob has to be open at least a full turn, and a gloved hand has to totally seal the closed choke flap. These plus the door being open and waiting to a count of three before hitting the button work for me. Being above 10 psi until ignition seems to be the most important.
   - John Larson - Sunday, 03/05/06 18:46:55 EST

Drop down menu? What drop down menu? I never have seen the list of our Advertisers......many of whom I have or will patronize, I am sure.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/05/06 19:52:04 EST

Hello Guru- I have a question about heat patination. I know how to take a propane torch and heat my metal for decoration, but I would like to know how to keep the colors with out having to get them powder coated, and without it rusting or getting finger prints on them. If you could answer, that would be so fabulous!!
   Becky Lautt - Sunday, 03/05/06 20:03:19 EST

Becky, you cannot. When bright metal is colored by heat it is by accelerated oxidation. That same oxidation continues over time at a slower rate and you have rust on steel, brown then green on brass and copper, grey on aluminium. Finger prints are slightly accelerated rust from the salt left behind.

Temper colors (those rainbow colors on bright steel) are produced by on atom thickness of partialy oxidized iron. Oil dulls the color and clear lacquer wets it. Clear lacquer is best but it is not a 100% rust preventitive.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/05/06 21:08:37 EST


I am finally caught up on the archives. 9 weeks of this forum and 3 months of the Hammer-In. Took a bunch of extra time trying to clear up all the childish non-sense posted by certain people and responses to them that would be out of place. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/05/06 21:52:48 EST

quenchcrack the list of advertisers is located on the drop down menu (where it says "NAVIGATE anvilfire") the list is about halfway down
   - Stephen - Sunday, 03/05/06 22:37:25 EST

On the getting started in blacksmithing page it says don't try to substitute a claw hammer for forging why is this? I have several differnt hammers i use for smithing this in cludes a claw hammer for driving punches and other cold work, but I was always curious as to why a claw hammer wouldn't do.
   - Stephen - Sunday, 03/05/06 22:40:39 EST

Thanks. I got the menu to work. I have an eraser that erases all possible cache and every place it hides. I tried that first as you suggested. I then disabled my Norton firewall and then then menu came right back. Thank You
   - Burnt Forge - Sunday, 03/05/06 23:00:41 EST

I aquired a 233 pound anvil with deep cuts in the horn and chips along the edges of the top. Can these be fix with welding and grinding or is there a better way.
   rick - Sunday, 03/05/06 23:21:08 EST

Bicio: Clarification & corection of the post last night- Not mineral fiber, CERAMIC fiber such as kaowool is a popular insulation that heats up quickly.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/05/06 23:49:38 EST

I bought several Chinese small axes (.6kg) at our favourite love& hate place, Harbor Freight. I have been re-forging them to resemble Viking bearded axes. So far, The one is almost done and it looks all the business, Am very happy with its shape and my artistic style for it.

Anyway, It starts with heating to cherry to remove the wood stub and paint, set aside on the dirt to cool. Then plasma cut a swooping curve behind the bit edge to create the 'beard'. Once I get on forging, A fullering and drawing out make 'ears' below the eye. Drifting the eye open a bit more round-ish. Forging out the plasma cut markings and thats about all there is to it.
It does get a full-on hammering/peening all the surface to create an appearance of total hand forging, No grinding or file work will show excepting at the cutting edge.

Problem is, the steel is developing cracks, And they dont seem to be in relation to where I am hammering and cracks appear in the thicker sections as well as the thinner sections too. The cracks do not appear to go completely through, But I cant tell how deep they do go.
Burning on coal, And I dont think I am working too cold,
I am not the fastest Smith, and I mention the study time to view the piece to determine the next steps, It take many, many heats to allow me to work all the areas I want. Do you think its the excessive heats causing the cracking.
Possibly, I dont heat the part totally, For example, I will just heat the poll and eye when working back there, Or just the bit when shaping the blade, etc. Should evenly I heat the entire piece no matter where I am going to work on it ?
And sorry, I dont know the steel type, aside from the sparktest represents a high carbon.
I expect as I gain practice the axes will take shape faster, The heats should be reduced to about 4.
   - Håkan - Monday, 03/06/06 00:09:28 EST

John Larson, thanks for the tips. I’ll try them. I’ve always had the door closed when lighting in the interest of retaining my facial hair. This could be fun.
   Mani De Mers - Monday, 03/06/06 01:42:13 EST

Hi, I'm hoping someone here can give me some insight into a problem I'm having with a gas forge.

Here's some quick background information, then my question/problems:
I'm using venturi burners; (the rather famous Ron Reil design). Stainless steel flare, 3/4" pipe, 2" bell reducer with pipe nipple/axial choke. The jet is a 6mm Tweco Tip.

The forge itself is a half-cylinder design, set into a flat bed of firebrick. The base of the covered area is 18"x24". The body is lined with two 1" layers of Kaowool, and coated with ITC-100.

I've got a few pictures of my setup here:

Here's the problem. When in open air, the burners perform very well. I can get a good neutural flame from about 2-20 psi, and the flame holds steady and strong at the end of the burner flare.

When I fire it up while mounted in the forge, I just get "loose" flame in the forge, but no roar from the burners, and no blue flame from the end of the flares. Opening the choke fully makes no difference.

However, removing all the bricks from the front and rear of the forge allows me to run one burner very well. It has a good blue flame and a strong roaring sound. If I add any bricks to the front or back, or turn on the second burner, it dies down and I don't get the good blue flame. I have a ton of secondary burn at the forge front and back.

This to me seems like a strong indicator that I've got too much backpressure- that the two burners are too much for this small forge, and even one burner running at 5psi is too much unless I open the forge up completely.

The problem with that is that if I open the front and back of the forge completely, I lose a ton of heat. I see pictures of lots of other forges running with a similar design and only small exhaust openings on the front and back. Clearly these seem to be working fine.

So- any insight? Is this really a backpressure problem? How do I address it without having to run with no front and rear walls on my forge?

Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions!

   TMIB - Monday, 03/06/06 02:01:01 EST

Can anyone tell me when the Northwest Ohio Blacksmiths site will be activated?

   ErnieD - Monday, 03/06/06 02:08:23 EST

Hi guru,
What do you think a fair price for one of the old floor cone Mandrels is?
   Kevin - Monday, 03/06/06 03:55:36 EST

TMIB: Will the forge burn OK if the bricks are moved about an inch away from the forge ends? There needs to be a lot of area for the exhaust to escape. My forge burns OK with a 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" opening at one end and firebricks in front of the other end [they are still 1/8" to 1/4" from the forge end]. This is with only 1 burner. By letting the gasses escape at a gap but still having the bricks there to reflect some heat You loose less heat than if the end is wide open. Somewhere I read 4 square inches of opening per 3/4" burner is the minimum vent size.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/06/06 04:12:30 EST

Kevin: How much a floor mandrel is worth really comes down to what is a fair price TO YOU. There isn't much of a market for them these days, and they seldom come for up sale also, so there really isn't much of a market price standard. Most weigh over 150 pounds so have to be shipped at freight rates, which can cost more than the item being shipped.

Even for those sold on eBay shipping has to be a factor. For example, if something is worth $300 to me, and shipping were $100, I would only bid $200. However, at a conference I might jump at $300.

Make an opening offer at $1.00 a pound and then dicker upward until it reaches your best and final offer level.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/06/06 08:31:02 EST

Guru, we made a descovery. This ones awsome. well worth your time.
   packrat - Monday, 03/06/06 09:04:12 EST

STEPHEN; Sure, a claw hammer will "work", but then, so will a rock. The question is; "How efficiently and how effectively." The face of a claw hammer is relatively flat, therefore, it doesn't spread the metal as effectively as a crowned forging hammer, making you work harder to attain the desired result. It also makes those little crescent shaped marks on the metal when you don't have the face parallel to the work surface. Now, here comes that big ugly "B" word; "BOOK". Go to the library, and get one on APPLIED PHYSICS. Then, actually READ the parts about work, kinetic and potential energy, weight and mass, and velocity, and all that other stupid stuff that makes the world work. Then you can come back here and argue minute points with those who HAVE read the book, and experienced the LAWS of physics and applied them.
   3dogs - Monday, 03/06/06 09:16:29 EST

Forge Problems: TMIB, Although you have lots of description in your question you also have left out critical information.

The 6mm (1/4") Tweco tip is the OD not the orifice size. These come in many styles and sizes. The ones for small wire (.030 and .040") are usualy used.

The bell reducer you are using is too large and a bad shape. Normally I use 1-1/2 but 1-1/4" work well. There is also a problem with shape. These things come in hemispherical shapes and they come in funnel shapes. It is just a difference in manufacturers but it makes a big difference. See my FAQ on gas forges for one with a good shape.

Then there is the matter of how far into the burner the tip extends. I have not experimented enough with this to say what is right but there IS a difference. In your type burner it is easy to be too far in. If you look at my burners that is why I have an extension tube, not just the bell.

Burners that work outside the forge do not neccessarily work inside the forge. Back pressure makes a big difference and usually a forge needs good back pressure to operate properly. But this is a matter of burner design. Good burners can overcome the backpressure while still providing the correct fuel air mixture. I suspect yours are producing too little pressure (due to bell size, orrifice size/depth).

Normally you cannot tell the color of the flame inside the forge it should burn clear or white hot and only the escaping flame should have color. Soemtimes yoiu can see blue right at the burner but most forges do not give you this close a view.

It is also easy to build one burner that is sufficient to run a forge and not need two. Then the second burner just becomes an extra and unsafe vent. Try removing the second burner and closing the hole.

Burner balance for a given volume is critical and is the biggest problem with home built burners. Unless yours is identical in every respect to another's burner it will not perform the same and not match the same forge volume. Thus all the other design aspects must be different to work.

DIY is full of trial and error. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 09:30:55 EST


It does sound as though it is a backpressure problem, but there shouldn't be any excess pressure with the ends open. If only one burner is working with the ends open, something else is amiss. My best guess would be that you have a problem with the venturi not drawing in sufficient combustion air. There can be several causes, and you need to check them all.

On the Reil-type burner, it is critical that you have the right type of bell reducer. Some of the cheapo imported ones have almost no slope from the big end to the small, so they don't work efficiently. A good reducer should have a nicely angled transition that is not too fast; 45° is okay, but less is a problem.

Your MIG tip needs to have the correct orifice size. YOu mentioned 6mm, but that is the diameter of the threads, not the orifice. I've found that either .030" or .023" MIG tips work okay, but the larger .035" and up are too large. If the orifice is too large, the gas speed is insufficient to entrain adequate air.

Another issue can be the aim of the orifice. The gas jetg must shoot right down the center of the burner tube. If it is angled off, it reduces efficiency. Testing it with water makes iteasy to see where it is aimed.

The last issue is the length of your burner tube. The 3/4" pipe burner tube needs to be 9" long or longer in order to allow the propane ample opportunity to get cozy with the air and achieve the required gas/air mix to burn.

I looked at the pictures of your burners, and I think I see where yhour problems lie. Based on the foregoing, here's what I see:

1. The way you have the gas tube mounted in that pretty short reducer, you would be better off with a simple drilled orifice, rather than the MIG tip. The length of the MIG tip is such that your gas is entering the burner too far down toward the 3/4" end, drastically reducing the Bernoulli effect. The gas should enter at the start of the transition in the reducer, not much deeper.

2. Your 2" pipe nipple on the intake is contributing to decreased air intake by increasing static pressure on the intake. Try cutting it down to just enough to retain your choke hardware. If you change to a drilled orifice in the gas pipe, then you can get rid of the nipple and just drill a small hole in the edge of the reducer and mount a swinging choke plate. If you want to stick with the MIG tip orifice, then use the nipple to mount the gas tube, instead of mounting it in the reducer; this will get the orifice back far enough to make the venturi work.

   vicopper - Monday, 03/06/06 10:00:32 EST

I see that Jock and I were busy at the same time.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/06/06 10:01:48 EST

Thanks for all the excellent information, I'll make some changes and see what kinds of results I get. I'll have to double check the tweco tip size and get back to you on that.

The burner flare ends at just about the point where the first layer of the Kaowool stops and the second layer starts. I didn't want the flare extending into the chamber, though it is still visible if you look up into the opening in the Kaowool.

I triple-checked the centering of the orifice, so I'm fairly sure that it is not the problem.

My plan at this point:
Switch to a different bell reducer. (1 1/2" instead of 2")
Either abandon the Tweco tip, and go with a drilled orifice, or mount the gas tube in the nipple.
If used, double check that the Tweco tip is .030" or .023".

I'll let you know my results. Thanks!

   TMIB - Monday, 03/06/06 10:43:07 EST

Kevin/Mandral Cone

Everything Ken already stated plus the following: The old standard is $10.00 an inch. They were typically valued in inches rather than by weight.
   - Burnt Forge - Monday, 03/06/06 10:45:10 EST

Stephen; Hammers:

Basically, it’s like using a cricket bat at a baseball game, or vice versa. It will work, but not as efficiently or as well. Also, (and I fear to bring this up) there is the problem of keeping up appearances. YOU may know what you’re doing, but another blacksmith, or even someone who knows just a little (and a little learning is a dangerous thing) may observe you and reach the snap judgment that you don’t know what your doing. Not fair (as I tell my children) but it does have an impact.

Lastly, there is a loss of utility. Except for a farrier wringing off the ends of horseshoe nails, the claw on the back serves no useful purpose.* Two faces usually give you two uses. Even my double-faced hammer has two different crowns for different ways to move the metal. So with a claw hammer, you can only use one face, when with metalworking hammers, you get another face or peen in the same tool.

In the end it comes down to what suits us best; but try a few other hammers, and you may well find some that are more efficient and comfortable to you style.

Håkan, Chinese Axes:

It sounds to me like it may be the steel. What little I know and have seen of Chinese tools, they are much more prone to “mystery metal” than other countries. It could be the result of high sulfur in you forge, or high sulfur or phosphorus in the metal, or other alloys or impurities. I frequently modify other tools and weapons into Viking age equivalents. Sometimes it works just fine, at other times it doesn’t work at all. And sometimes I burn the ears off my daughter’s axe.** (Bother!)

*Unless, of course, it’s a rip hammer, who’s relatively straight claw can be used for texture patterning. Not a common use, but sometimes useful.

**Switching from gas to coal, after a long time with one, should call for a higher level of vigilance. Sorry, Lisa.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/06/06 10:47:45 EST

Packrat; Thank you for sharing that with us. (BOG)
   3dogs - Monday, 03/06/06 10:56:09 EST

Chinese Axes: Håkan, I would suspect the problem may be you are starting with cast steel axes. OR as Atli suggested it is some kind of mystery metal.

Cast steel WILL forge but it must be very good steel and worked carefully. All modern steel starts out as cast and is then run through rolls. It used to be that the cast ingots were carefully forged to remove ingotism (large crystaline structure and soft centers). Modern technology has generaly gotten past that but if you cast a piece and then want to forge it there is a difference. In high tech foundries casting steel tools they use a centrifugal casting system that moves the metal FAST and increases its overall density. They also have a laboratory where metallurgical chemists test each batch of steel before it is cast. The chemistry of the cast alloy must be exact to get the best results. In low tech foundries they pour steel without labs as if it were cast iron and get less than the best results.

On many high carbon alloy tool steels they will crack and crumble if over heated. They also do not like being worked too cold. Thus you have a very narrow working range at bright orange but not yellow and not red. . . It takes more heats OR you learn to be VERY efficient. This is where power hammers are most useful.

SO. . it could be you, it could be the mystery metal.
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 11:06:43 EST

Forging with a claw hammer. The worlds not gonna end if you
try a claw hammer out on a peice of hot steel, and then you'll know why it's not recommended.

Of course if the world does end............ I'll take the blame....
   JimG - Monday, 03/06/06 11:07:27 EST

Bell reducers are no doubt great for what they were designed for, reducing any bells that might need reducing. But the thick lips set up turbulence that makes for fuel/air-flow problems in forges. To get a good smoooooth Venturi, go to a furnace shop-- HVAC-- and ask for permission to scrounge a real one or an entire assembly off a junk furnace. You'll be glad you did.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/06/06 11:26:39 EST

Cone Mandrels: For some reason, probably rairity the big ones sell quite high. Those currently available are not very big while the old ones were often over 5 feet. Dimentions and construction vary greatly on this simple tool.

I have one that is about 50", hollow and no extended base. It appears to have had a removable tip that have been brazed in. A friend has several old cones. One is about 3 feet tall and at least 20" at the base and SOLID. It has a place for a 1" eye bolt to thread into the top and THAT is what is needed to move this thing. It is well over 1000 pounds. The steep angle makes it less useful than others. Some manufactures braged that they had a "tong slot" and highly touted this feature. Alex Belaer also went for it. So these currently sell for more. The open tong slot is in fact an easy way to support the core in the mold while installing chaplets for side to side support. One maker had a flat on the side of their cone for tong space. Most had neither flat or groove. Most did not have an extended base. Wally Yeater had a beautiful pattern with a stepped round base that gave you some larger sizes as well as a wide base.

One unique set of "cone mandrels" was a set of short tapered rings (about 8" tall". These nested so they took little storage space and had a large enough diameter to work well on the biggest wagon hubs.

These tools are one of the least used tools in the shop unless you are making LOTS of rings. So if you need one, you need one. But otherwise they gather dust. If you have a Peddinghaus, Euroanvil or other brand of anvil with a conical horn you do not need a cone mandrel for up to the 3 or 4" diameter of the horn. Other anvils have a roughly triangular horn. If you are doing lots of small rings a slender stake type cone works.
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 11:30:40 EST

First off congratulations on snagging a 223# anvil, that is a nice size indeed.

Fixing anvils is somewhat controversial, and techniques differ according to the anvil construction. Many anvils are nicely useable as is, so no need to risk damaging them further. I'm sure others will chime in with more specific information so I will keep my answer short.

First, it would be good to identify the anvil as to maker and age. That will help to determine the construction of the anvil. If you can let us know about shape, markings, etc. we can help you with the identification.

Second, chips around the edges are rather normal, and not necessarily a bad thing as the edges need to be somewhat rounded to begin with. New anvils need to be carefully "dressed" before use as too sharp an edge will mar the work.

Third, typically the face of the anvil is much harder than the horn. Not true for all anvils, some had a steel plate on top of the horn.

So, some more information as to make of anvil, and a more specific description of the edge chips and the cuts in the horn will allow knowledgeable people (more knowledgeable than me) to step forward with some good advice for you.
   Ellen - Monday, 03/06/06 11:34:48 EST

"TONG SLOT"? Yeah, I know it's called that, but I always found it useful for another reason. Most of the time (in rigging) when you make a ring it is on the end of a chain or has a link of some sort connected to it. That slot allows the ring to be trued up with that link laying in the slot. My ring tongs rarely needed the extra room.
   - grant - Monday, 03/06/06 12:23:37 EST

Chinese axes: I second the Guru on this one. All (not some, but ALL) of the cheap Chinese hammer-like objects (which I'm sure are described in Mandarin as steel-on-a-stick, no matter what the shape of the steel) I have played with have been very poor castings with HUGE crystals. We're talking grain size of 5mm or more! Some of these objects seem to have been cast-in-shape, then given one sturdy whack with a drop hammer so they could say they're drop forged. If you can get the still-cheap Collins / Tramontina hatchets that are made in Brazil, they're a MUCH better steel which can actually be forged like high-carbon steel is supposed to. Of course, if you overheat or forge too cold, they'll still crack on you.
   Alan-L - Monday, 03/06/06 12:31:37 EST

I need some advice on some tooling I am making. I have an idea for a project that will look much better with a vine/bark texture. I will need to texture 1/4" through 3/4" bar. So I found an axle about 1 1/2" diameter, I think should make great dies for a spring swage.

My original idea was to drill various size holes then cut the axle through the center of the hole and cut about an inch of material for each hole half. These would then be welded to a spring swage and a piece welded on to fit my hardy hole, and I would grind/cut the reverse texture in each piece. This method would give me one spring swage for each size bar. Once I realized I couldn't drill the axle (I could barely even scrath it with the drill press) I annealed it by soaking in the forge at orange and then leaving it in the forge to cool. I can drill it now, it's still hard I may reheat and buy some cat litter to bury it in while it cools to see if it gets softer.

My new idea is to drill only one hole maybe 1" then cut an inch or so on each side of the hole heat the piece and smash it to make the hole an oval, then cut in half, texture and mount to a spring and hardy post. This would be easier, and should allow me to texture various size bar with only one tool, disadvantage that I see is that I risk making the bar oval as I work it.

what would you do? Should I make a swage for each size bar, or just one combo? I am working by hand no power hammer.

Another question, using the same axle I plan on a raised vein leaf tool as per the I-Forge demo. If I draw the axle at a taper and square it up for the hardy hole leaving an inch or so full size can I then just drop it in the hardy hole and beat it out to proper size/shape? hot of course, planning to use the two handed sledge, for expediency. I don't want to damage my anvil. It's a newer TFS 300# double bick. I don't think it would hurt, but the hardy being past the main mass must be a weak point, I am not really sure if I should work with a heavy hammer in the hardy. Thanks for the help.
   Jeff G - Monday, 03/06/06 12:38:52 EST


This type tool is usualy made to a large radius and then will work from that size down. The work is rotated to texture all around. 1/2 holes will not work well as the sides are too steep. For the right shape see the Big BLU dies page OR Kayne and Son (blacksmithsdepot). The one on the blacksmithsdepot page is made by Grant Sarver.

To make your own I would start with a block of steel, grind a 1 to 1-1/2" radius in the center by using the wheel at an angle to the axis of the radius. Then using the same grinder cut the texturing grooves. Afer cutting the shallow grooves smooth the edges with a flat wheel or lots of filing and sanding. You do not want anything too sharp as it will cut the steel and leave sharp burrs and edges.

Yes, you can upset your piece in the hardy hole. Just use reasonable force and work ONLY while the iron is hot. Make your shank so that it is not too tight . . you don't want to have to be drilling the thing out of the anvil. . . Most folks prefer a swage block for this rather than endanger their anvil but it IS commonly done in the anvil.
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 13:08:28 EST

Tong Slot. . Grant, I've never made rings on chain and rigging but can see where that would be VERY handy.
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 13:12:31 EST

Bearded hatchets: my favorite preform for them are the old shingler's hatchets---the ones with the hammer head poll and the large triangular blade. I cut off the poll and cut the blade into a bearded shape.

Modern Armor: Most "real" armour today is made for using ranging from folks on the jousting circuit---and there is an uncoreographed jousting circuit out there! To living history groups using steel weapons. To SCA use---their stuff sees a *lot* of impact use even if they do use rattan swords. To light duty LARP use.

I've been associated with the SCA since 1978 and the local armoury was in my garage; so much of what I know is based on that usage. 12 and 14 gauge stainless is not unknow for armour use and some folks even use Ti! The latest thing has been using 1050 and heat treating armour. Some folks do crude simple work and some folks have museum quality work---some is actually *in* museums!

The push towards greater authenticity from both LH and SCA people has resulted in the creation of The Armour Research Society why has published their first journal and recently had their first conference in Chicago with people attending associated the Royal Armouries and Wallace Colection among others.

There is a wide range of tools and methods being used; but *most* armour is being cold worked and use workhardening of mild steel as a major part of their "protection"---some armoureres have been known to dish a cop and then dish it the other way to increase the workhardening of soft steel. I do know that english rollers sold to car restorers and custom builders are considered too flimsy for armour making though.

It is interesting to note that the *best* armourers do seem to have the capability of doing hot work and use it to get places that the cold work and weld folk never manage to come close.

I remeber watching a fellow raise a beehive helm from real wrought iron almost 25 years ago and have recently been blown away by a fellow reproducing some Negroli patterns to a very high standard indeed.

The sad thing is that there are still people out their advocating people to start with making armour out of barrel plastic---because it requires so little in the way of tools; *BUT* the tool list they give is the exact sme one we had for doing metal armour back in the late 1970's.

If you get a chance look up pictures from the Pennsic War and see 2000-3000 folks in armour in unchoreographed battles.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/06/06 13:18:04 EST

Cone Mandrels


A Short Essay on “Fair Price,” “Fair Market Value,” and Market Surveys

The information below is terribly simplified (and maybe very obvious to some folks here), but provides a useful outline for establishing values when acquiring equipment.

“Fair” when it comes to buying things (or to daily life, for that matter) is a remarkably flexible concept.

Some people will pay far less (or accept far more) money for a certain object, and still can’t help but feel cheated. Some folks will pay far more than usual for an item because of time constraints, or prestige of ownership, or local scarcity, or not wanting to go through the bother of bargaining or spending time hunting for the ultimate bargain. (In the words of Grant Sarver: “Good Fast and Cheap; pick two.”)

“Fair market value” is commonly defined as what would be an amount of money agreeable between a willing buyer and a willing seller. One way to establish what this value might be is to see how much money folks are buying and selling the same or a similar item for.

My first step, usually, is to see what new equipment is selling for. Check the vendors (like the AnvilFire advertisers) to see what price you would pay for the item new. You can also take brand and reputation into account.

The second step is to see what similar used items are selling for. On the net you can check e-bay, do a Google search, try various search terms (blacksmith tools, antique tools, etc.), and see what is available in terms of size, suitability and supply. Cast a skeptical eye at anything that’s labeled “collector’s item,” and pay VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to details such as shipping costs and crating charges.

If you have the time, haunt antique stores and flea markets. Use your knowledge. The best deals are usually when you know how much something normally sells for and the flea market vendor thinks its just heavy junk.

If at all possible, attend blacksmithing events and check out the tailgate area. You may not get the cheapest price (see above) but you get the benefits of competition, comparison, and knowledgeable people all in the same place.

This process can take a couple of hours, or a couple of years, depending on your need and resources; but research, patience and persistence will frequently enable you to purchase the tool or equipment (or almost anything) that you want, that best suits your requirements, and at a reasonable or even lower price.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/06/06 13:26:01 EST

Has anyone else using this forum been getting e-mails from a guy in Nigeria wanting you to help him transfer his dad's money into America.
   - Tyler Murch - Monday, 03/06/06 13:41:27 EST

Has anyone else using this forum been getting e-mails from a guy in Nigeria wanting you to help him transfer his dad's money into America.
   - Tyler Murch - Monday, 03/06/06 13:41:42 EST

If you have access to a lathe, or are good with a die grinder, you can make a big improvement in a bell reducer by smoothing and polishing the transition area. To get the maximum benefit, you should do this with the 3/4" pipe screwed into the reducer so every bit of the transition is smooth. You still have to start out with a reducer that is funnel-shaped and not hemispherical, of course.

Don't bother trying to polish the inside of the burner tube itself, though. A bit of roughness there actually helps to set up turbulent flow, improving the gas/air mixing.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/06/06 13:45:35 EST

Tyler: That is one fo the biggest scams in the world.
   - John Odom - Monday, 03/06/06 14:34:01 EST

This scam has been going on for years in one form or another. I have an enormous number of very rich dead (usually by horrible means) relatives, that I can have their money, as a surviving relative, if I only ?? I usually turn them over to my sister, the postmaster, and offer to split the money if she can collect. ( I am still broke)
   David - Monday, 03/06/06 14:38:33 EST

The Nigeria Scam has been going on for years.It is a rip-off!Do not reply.
quenchcrack.. I agree:Forge,anneal,grind,normalize,harden,temper,final grinding,polish...I use peanut oil for Quenching,works great and smells better then most...I would not TIG the tang threaded rod,rather grind it down to fit the hole in in the guard.

   - arthur - Monday, 03/06/06 14:41:40 EST

I ment I would not weld the guard to the blade and tang.I would weld the threaded rod to the stub tang.This was Bill Morans method.
   - arthur - Monday, 03/06/06 14:45:45 EST

Nigerian Scam, Officialy known as the advance-fee scam. To get your ill gotten gains you must first pay a bribe to a lawyer or some government official to clear up some paperwork, then there is another cost and another cost. . until you have run out of money or paticeince trying to get you part of the $28 million dollars. Most of the "fees" you have paid are bribery of one kind or another and illegal everywhere. You cannot ask for your money back since it was for something illegal.

People are often asked to fly to some third country to deliver cash to expidite the process and then recieve THEIR cut. . . a good way to get mugged or murdered somewhere that could not care less about YOU.

Nigeria is the center for this scam and it is a regular cottage industry there. The government has claimed for years that it is trying to crack down on the crooks but in fact many government officials ARE the crooks. Yes, those bribes DID go to government officials but NOT to get you your money, but to protect the scammer. A few really stupid people have gone to Nigeria to try to reclaim their money and been murdered as a result.

As with all offers (including government lotteries), if it sounds too good to be true or "free" money is involved then it is just a way to seperate you from your money or even your life.
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 15:31:30 EST

have you heard the dates for Quad State 2006 ??
   Bill E - Monday, 03/06/06 15:47:46 EST

Welded tang: What was discribed was a blade with a short forged tang with a tang of another material welded to it. This is a common way to make a tang, expecially when the material in use is expensive or short. Fancy laminated steel blades often have a mild steel tang welded to them. This is especialy useful when the tang is to be bradded or upset as the mild steel does this much better than blade steel.

To do this correctly the short tang is forged leaving a healthy rounded shoulder. It is just long enough to the clear the radius. Then the tang is welded on by any suitable method (including forge welding).
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 15:52:07 EST

Quad State: It is supposed to be held the fourth weekend in September each year. This year should be the 22-24 but it has not been announced on the SOFA web site.
   - guru - Monday, 03/06/06 15:56:42 EST

Use of Mandrell Tong Slot:

Also came in handy last week when rounding-up a welded ring through the eye at the head of a small anchor.

Remember, y'all want mandrels:


...not Mandrills:


   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/06/06 16:43:47 EST

Many folk do texture dies by running arc welding beads on the die face, this has the advantage of being easily renewed when they wear down where cutting into the face will wallow out the die over time and re-working.

I can see where Bruce would not want mandrills as he has a ready supply of vikings indistinguishable from other primates...

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/06/06 16:55:54 EST

Quad-State: Actually it is usually the last FULL weekend in September. But as noted above, should be 23-24. While officially a Saturday and Sunday event, they are now usually doing something on Friday night, such as a slide show. It is not unusual for tailgate sellers to start showing up on Tuesday or Wednesday. Quad-State registration packages are usually not sent out until July or August. If you want to be put on the mailout list you can send a postcard request to SOF&A Quad-Sate 06, P.O. Box 24308, Huber Heights, OH 45424-0308. Last I heard from Amy Pieh she expects to represent Pieh Tool Co. there this year. Centaur Forge missed last year (perhaps for the first time in 20 years), but I would expect them there this year. Mostly they bring books now. However, if you were to order something from either Pieh or Centaur I suspect it could be delivered to Quad-State for you.

On rare occasion it can be other than last full weekend. I remember one year it was rescheduled because Dan Boone was otherwise tied up that particular weekend for a show.

I'm going up to SOF&A for the air hammer workshop in a couple of weeks. Will see if I can confirm dates then.

Don't forget about the Anvilfire/CSI Hammer-in at my farm near Waverly, TN on April 22-23. BigBlu will have one or more of their air hammers there for test driving. Tour of the nearby The World of Tools Museum firmed up (baring unforseen circumstances) for early Saturday afternoon. If you are a 'tool guy', Hunter Pilkinton's collection will probably make you drool. I suspect it is the world's largest private collection of tools. Could be wrong, but each item is numbered and catalogued and it is now up to about 20,000 cards. Also, Hunter has a shop full (literally) of various metal working equipment. He may be open to offers on shop equipment due to declining health. Scrap iron at $.25 lb. Hunter seems to be more open to 'make me an offer' these days for items other than what is in museum.

If you want further information on the Anvilfire gathering just click on my name to bring up an e-mail form.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/06/06 17:07:29 EST

Gotta agree that government lotteries have very long odds, but how do you explain that to the guy who just won $265 MILLION? Even after taxes he'll have a tidy sum in his pocket. Now, as long as he dosen't take up blacksmithing it might last him.
   - grant - Monday, 03/06/06 18:46:44 EST

People seem to forget that every one of those 265 million dollars came from a ticket that didn't win.

What I always find interesting is the long lines when the projected earnings get pretty high, like around $100M. What, a petty $10M isn't enough to get off your butt and buy a ticket?
   - Marc - Monday, 03/06/06 19:30:28 EST


Yeah, I think the gummit has taught us that it ain't big money till it gets in the hundres of millions. I think it was Dirkson who said "a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking big money". You know, a stack of thousand dollar bills to equal a million is just 7" tall, but a stack to equal a billion is almost 600 feet tall!
   - grant - Monday, 03/06/06 20:58:31 EST

Grant, yep, old Ev Dirkson from Illinois. Good line. Now they're tossing trillions around. Only an astronomer can fathom numbers that big.

Lottery: you can't lose if you don't play.
   Ellen - Monday, 03/06/06 22:08:42 EST

Hello BOB and SGT K. I mentioned welding the guard because that is what the SGT has availible. He did not mention solder.

If you weld the guard on then grind and file the back for placement of the handle. You are home clean.

You will need to normalize and anneal before the heat-treat and drawing. The reason for this is to make sure your blade is a good solid blade with no surpises.

   sandpile - Monday, 03/06/06 22:28:17 EST

I wrote to you about the 233 pound anvil that needs help. I do not know the make but it has 2 1/4 cwt,England and 115 kilos as the markings. The horn has a deep groove in it at about midway that looks like it was cut or worn into. The edge on the Right hand Smith side has a chipped edge that looks like paint chipping. If there is more info you need please let me know. I don't know if this could be or should be fixed. Thank you for your help.
   Rick - Monday, 03/06/06 22:40:52 EST

I am in search of a supplier for mushroom head stakes. The only one I have found so far has discontinued the stakes for raising bowls. Rio Grande and my other usual suppliers only carry the small stakes. Can you help?
   Pat - Monday, 03/06/06 23:52:01 EST

Pat, Try Piehtool Company and Centaur Forge. They have both carried a line of these. Both are on the drop down menu. If you have specific needs I know someone making custom stakes.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/07/06 00:52:55 EST

Chipped anvil: Rick this sounds like very marginal chipping. The best thing is to dress gently with a grinder. Many anvils had too sharp of edges to start which agrevates chipping. The wear in the horn will not hurt the usefulness and is part of the history of a tool that has had long use. If you send Ken or I a couple photos of the anvil we might be able to help identify it and let you know more about what needs to be done.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/07/06 00:57:10 EST

Pat-- Try Metalliferous (sp?)in NYC. I have seen good condition stakes in their store.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 03/07/06 01:26:52 EST

Rick: You almost certainly have a Record (formerly Vaughn) anvil from England. One piece cast. May be cast steel or cast iron. Recently someone on the forum said they were now being cast for them in India. I cannot confirm it either way.

Try this: Turn anvil over and arc weld a piece of fairly heavy angle iron to the bottom at only one side. Now try to knock it off with a large hammer. If it pops right off, leaving a depression in the anvil, likely anvil cannot be economically repaired as it is cast iron or such. If the weld holds to the surface, but breaks, then it is weldable. Here you can just angle iron off the remainder of the bead.

Without seeing photos of damage, or metal content, difficult to advise whether to repair or just work around the damage.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/07/06 05:05:46 EST

I am curious i was at a machine shop yesterday and he said that to weld a high carbon metal to a low carbon he uses a special rod he gave me one with the numbers on the rod but I can't find much info on the web about it i was wondering if you could help. The number on the rod is 10016-D2
   - Mark - Tuesday, 03/07/06 09:21:24 EST

Mark, There are dozens of rod makers that use various trade name rods for special purposes. The one you describe is a 100 series rod or 100KIPS tensile strength. Other specialty rods such as the now renamed "super-missle rod" for similar purposes have similar but proprietary chemistry.

On high alloy steel to low carbon welds between mixed materials I often use a common 304 or 305 stainless rod. They stick well to the both the high alloy and low carbon. However it does not have the strength of the type of rod you describe.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/07/06 11:10:41 EST

The best description I have seen on the Lottery-
"The Lottery is where 300 million stupid people make 1 stupid person look smart"

Question that I have not been able to find in your help files.
How big should the grate holes be in a brake drum forge? I saw the 2 bars, but did not see how much gap should be left. Mine has a 3" hole at this time.
Thanks David
   David - Tuesday, 03/07/06 11:30:22 EST

3 inch opening with two 1/2" bars = (3) 2/3" slots. That is about right to keep most coal from falling through.

When you attach your tuyeer (plumbing) the flange may make the hole smaller and then you may only want one bar.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/07/06 12:34:11 EST

guru Thanks for the info on thermocouple wires. when not blacksmithin'i melt some alu.I also have a tig and have weled chromel-alumel wire.I also prefer the long wires.Do you have a phone # who still sells them? I tried the omega site and could not figure out what i was looking for."too many chooses for a simple request" any info would be app.
   stroker - Tuesday, 03/07/06 13:14:35 EST

Marc wrote:
"What, a petty $10M isn't enough to get off your butt and buy a ticket?"

At odds of 140,000,000:1, ten million is not enough for me to bet a dollar.
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 03/07/06 13:23:04 EST

Stroker, If you can wrangle a set of Omega's catalogs they are 20 pounds of manual and may help.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/07/06 14:39:00 EST

As aside on lottos: Payout is about 30%. Thus, 1B fools make one fool look good.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/07/06 19:39:22 EST

I recently welded up a bracked to hang a 5 gallon bucket off the back of my quad. To make it all come together, I had to hold the two pieces in place on the quad, so they were at the right angle. I disconected the battery on the quad, prior to welding. I didn't want to fry the electrical system. So, my question is, was it necessary to disconnect the battery?
   Bob H - Tuesday, 03/07/06 20:12:36 EST

I need a supplier of 316L steel in round rods under 1/4". All the suppliers in my area don't have anything smaller. I only need a few yards of sizes 10 ga., 8 ga., and 6 ga.

   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 03/07/06 20:14:53 EST


I've had good luck with onlinemetals.com and smallparts.com
They both have 316L, and smallparts has 316 ball bearings as well as nuts and bolts.
   Dave A - Tuesday, 03/07/06 20:51:59 EST

I have an anvil, it is not marked in any recognisable way except for a large hand cut letter C(I say hand cut because the three differnt sections-curl, straight, curl- are all slightly different depths). I was wondering if ANYBODY has ANY information on my anvil. Thank you.
   Sam Salvati - Tuesday, 03/07/06 21:01:05 EST

BOB-- I don't know a about the new quads.. I have always welded on my older pick-ups, trucks , tractors. I have not hurt anything that I know of.

   sandpile - Tuesday, 03/07/06 22:01:30 EST

For smaller sizes like 1/8
   - ptree - Tuesday, 03/07/06 22:36:46 EST

TGN, for you small diameter rod needs in 316L have you considered tig rod?
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/07/06 22:38:22 EST

Bob: I don't know about the new quads either, but newer trucks and other engine driven equiptment has cautions about disconecting BOTH battry cables before welding. If there are fancy electronic anythings on it, it may be costly to find out the hard way.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/07/06 23:07:12 EST

Ian & Mike; Hammer Eyes.

I just returned from a trip, so I'm going back a few days to the hammer eye questions. I've punched a bunch of them, as well as top tool eyes, usually with a striker, and sometimes by myself with a four pound hand hammer. It can also be done with care under some power hammers.

First of all, I don't slit them. There is a top tool called a hammer eye punch with the punch portion tapered and it has a haft to get your hand away from the heat. The haft is often put on at 45º to the long axis of the eye itself. This not only keeps your hand cooler, but you can better see how the tool is sitting on the hot steel. The business end of the punch is about 2/3 less in size than the finished eye, sometimes even less than that. You want to go in from one side a little more than half way; turn the stock over and go in from the other side. The removed burr will be compressed and therefore much smaller than the parent stock. Work quickly at an optimal heat, because this helps to prevent "punch suck-in". Suck-in occurs when the hot material draws down around the area of the punch entry, creating a depression. This is to be avoided as much as possible. Working quickly, there will be minimal suck-in.

The eye shape is always smaller than desired in the finished tool. In that way you are removing not much material.

The eye is then drifted from both sides, normally over the hardy hole. I use a tapered S7 drift about 9" long, and when driven in, the side swelling is flattered WHILE the drift is in. There may be a slight elongation of the hammer eye, but there can be a final drifting at a later time. The punched eye will cause a slight lengthening of the stock.

If you do a little homework regarding hammer eye shapes, many manufactured hammers have a very nice ovate shape, but blacksmith made hammers often have straight sides on the eye with half round ends. It is easier to forge and cold shape a rectangular taper with half round ends that it is to forge and bench-work a tapered oval.

The hammer eye is punched first when making a tool, or at least near the beginning of the operation. The reason is that you may mistakenly punch a hole off center or on a slight diagonal to the hammer axis. It's better to stop and start over than to spend a lot of time making a decent hammer shape and THEN punch a crooked or eccentric hole. Wasted time.

Finally, assuming you are making a blacksmith style punch, as a general rule of thumb, the length of the eye can be twice the width.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/08/06 00:18:36 EST

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