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This is an archive of posts from March 8 - 15, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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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

Just finished building my brake drum forge today and fired it up. I hooked up a hand held hair dryer for the blower, and ran it on low speed. Worked like a champ. First fire lit up real easy, and make good coke in no time at all. Made several tools and never had a problem controlling the fire.

For the bottom grate on the brake drum, I cut out a round piece of 1/4" plate, just a tad smaller than the inside bottom flat area where the lug holes are. I drilled 20 1/4" holes for the air blast to come through, and it seems to work just fine.

I had purchased some coal from a local farrier supply and it was mostly fairly small pieces and a lot of it would have fallen through the grate if I had used the bars has had been described.

By the way I used 2" tuyeer plumbing. If the forge continues to work as it did this first day, I will be very pleased.
   Glenn Tate - Wednesday, 03/08/06 02:37:18 EST

BobH: Perhaps it was overkill, but when I was working on a customer's vehicle, I would disconnect the ground cable, pull the wire out of the back side of the alternator and make sure the ground clamp was on the part of the vehicle that I was welding to. I figured that was a cheap way to help make sure I wasn't going to eat the job because I fried somebody's electrical system.
   3dogs - Wednesday, 03/08/06 02:41:48 EST

Sam Salvati: Your anvil could be any brand into which someone stamped an initial of ownership. If you can send me good contrast photographs of the front, back, side with horn to right and bottom I may be able to narrow possibilities down for you. Also, does it have an obvious top plate.

Theory: Why logos on many anvils have been lost. Most blacksmiths use anvil with horn to left as they stand at it. Logo was on far side was often used as a backer block. However, that is also the side facing outward. Pure and simple advertising. It would have been the side facing a visitor to the shop.

Glenn Tate: The forge you describe seems to be exactly the type shown in Reader's Digest's Back to Basics book.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/08/06 04:16:33 EST

Hammer eyes:

Frank, when you say the punch is 2/3 less than the finished eye, do you mean it's 1/3 the size of the finished eye? And how much taper is there to the punch? Does it taper to the full size of the eye?

I'm a little inconfident in my ability to punch straight, especially in something as thick as a hammer, and was thinking of drilling some guide holes.
   - Marc - Wednesday, 03/08/06 08:40:29 EST

Next week I am going to be in Portland, Oregon for a few days. Most of my time will be taken up with family duties and a bit of shopping, but I will have some free time to go a-wandering; if anyone knows of any shops or great ironwork I should check out, let me know. I'll be there from Thursday through Monday. Getting there from here is a really long, nasty process so I'm hoping there is something fun to do besides seeing family.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/08/06 08:42:05 EST


If you punch from both sides, going just a bit over half depth on the first side, you shouldn't come out off that much. By punching the stock before you shape the hammer, you can adjust your forging to adapt to any slight deviation in the hole.

What Frank described is using a punch that is significantly smaller than the size of the finished hole, and then using a separate drift to bring the hole to the finished size. When drifting, remember that a good hammer has an eye that is wider at both sides than it is in the middle, so you don't drive the drift all the way through from one side; you have to drift from both sides to get that subtle hourglass shape that holds the haft properly.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/08/06 08:48:23 EST

Dave A., thanks for the tips. I just ordered 316L rod in the sizes I needed from onlinemetals.com. Nice site for material. I was a bit wary of using TIG rod, didn't know if it was pure or not. TIG fillers don't have any flux or laminate on them, do they? I have no experience with TIG (yet, grin).
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/08/06 09:07:13 EST


An end-on view of the punch, the tool itself, will be 2/3 to 1/2 the size of the desired, finished eye. The punch portion beyond its haft will have a significant taper; it is difficult to describe how much. For a hand hammer, you're normally using square stock, about 1 1/2" to 1 5/8" on a side, and the punch length, sans eye and striking head, is about 3" to 4" long. The thickest end of the punch will be larger than the finished eye, but you're not going to go in to that depth.

When punching and trying for accuracy, even though working by eye/hand, have the first blow struck. Back off immediately and inspect the shallow punch mark. If it is off, center it. It it looks centered, lay on the blows.

I think a working blacksmith will punch the eye. If you're a hobby smith and time is of no consequence, I suppose you could drill a hole. Make sure the hammer steel is annealed. If the twist drill "screams" in the work, don't force the issue.

Not to forget that when you drift a drilled hole, it is very easy to wind up with a diagonal eye.


Ft. Vancouver Historic site is across the river in Washington state, and I understand they have had Peter Ross demonstrate for their blacksmith shop employees on more than one occasion. Also, when I was in Vancouver, I visited a Pendleton woolen mill, very noisy but interesting and quite a big operation.

   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/08/06 10:39:49 EST

We are doing a school project about the 13 coloneys and we have to blacksmith. How do you blacksmith?
   daredevil - Wednesday, 03/08/06 12:52:35 EST

YEs we have had several Peter Ross demos and teaching sessions at Ft Vancouver. ( just had one a few months back.) We have also had Wayne Goddard come in and teach some of his knife manking skills etc.
Not a whole lot of iron work in the Portland area tht I can think of. Most of it seemed to be cast iron castings.
   Ralph - Wednesday, 03/08/06 13:00:21 EST

Not a good question to ask on this forum, a lot of people take offense or mild annoyance to that. Email me about what you specifically want to know, because I'll bet its pretty basic. (click on my name for the email address)
   Aron Obrecht - Wednesday, 03/08/06 13:16:21 EST

Technicaly you don't "Blacksmith". A blacksmith is a person who forges iron (or steel). To forge iron you heat it till it is red hot in a forge, place it on an anvil, and while it is hot hit it with a hammer. Repeat as often as needed until the iron is the shape you wanted.

   JimG - Wednesday, 03/08/06 13:19:45 EST


For a good look at a blacksmith's life in Colonial times, read the first few chapters of "The Revolutionary Blacksmith" by Jim "PawPaw" Wilson. It is available here on Anvilfire by using the pull-down menu at the upper right of your screen and clicking on "STORIES Fact Fiction".

For details of what blacksmiths did and still do, look at the iForge page with its demonstrations of how some articles are made by blacksmiths.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/08/06 14:10:48 EST

Thanks Frank and Vic. I was thinking the guide holes would actually be two small ones, one on each end of the eye. I would then punch out the material between them. But the more I think about it, I'll probably try punching the whole thing instead. After all, I'm looking to make a hammer - not have a hammer.

I lucked into a couple 1-7/8" shafts that appear to be 4140, per a spark test compare, so I've got lots of hammer material to play with. They're round, but I know how to fix that. I'd probably be better off practicing with mild steel, but it's what I've got.

   - Marc - Wednesday, 03/08/06 14:13:36 EST

Isolating car electrics:

When I went through my MVE papers a few years back there was a whole section on 'modern' car electronics and the various ways in which you could fry them. I'd recommend removing BOTH earth and positive leads and if you know where it is the plug from your CPU on the ignition system (Look for a little black box with a multi pin connector, and yes there might well be several). Use the earth from your welder as close as possible to the site you are working on. Even somthing that seems as simple as a quad bike could in fact have a CPU on the ignition system and those can be as delicate as the computer your using now.
Those horrible little micro processors can cost a ridiculous amount of money. Better safe than sorry and out of pocket.
   Ian Lowe - Wednesday, 03/08/06 14:51:01 EST

DIY Electropolishing low carbon steels:
I've read about several DIY methods for rust removal with washing soda and a battery charger on "mild" steel. I've also read a great deal of detailed information on electropolishing stainless parts to provide a more even finish.

I'm having trouble finding information specific to DIY electropolishing low carbon steels [1018, mild steel mig welds, and whatever may be in A36]. Has anyone here done it? What is the electrolyte solution necessary? Volt/Amperage recommended? Is it all the same as the rust removal recipe?

Any advice weould be appreciated. If this has already been discussed in the archives or elsewhere on this site, pleease let me know. I've been around here about 2 years now [paying for one, Suppport CSI!!!!!] and don't remember it coming up in that time.

Raining in Columbus OH... when is it not?

   MikeM OH - Wednesday, 03/08/06 15:23:12 EST

George Tate:

Good to hear about someone starting out by DOING something and not jawing folks to death. ;-) Keep up the good work and enjoy the magic of the transformative power.

Ft. Vancouver NHS: http://www.nps.gov/fova/

Daredevil: There are two National Park Service sites that have excellent information on colonial blacksmithing. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in Pennsylvania ( www.nps.gov/hofu/ ) and Saugus Ironworks NHS in Massachusetts ( www.nps.gov/sair/ ). If you're near either of these locations, it's well worth the trip, and if you're not, explore the websites for further information and be sure to check out the books at http://www.eparks.com/eparks/park_entrance.asp?park=473 and http://www.eparks.com/eparks/park_entrance.asp?park=145 These books may be purchased or you may be able to pull some of them at your library or through an inter-library loan.

Good luck and keep studying!

Cloudy and warming on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/08/06 16:04:53 EST

Williamsburg has also a bit of information on colonial blacksmithing and IIRC National Geographic published a book on Colonial Crafts.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/08/06 17:13:06 EST

I'm looking for your opinions to the question;can you succesfully torch weld triple refined wrought iron?
My situation: my mother in law volunteers my services to repair exceptionally well made Church cemetary "sagging" gate because, her words, "he can fix anything made out of metal"(she means without compensation. afterall, it is for God).
I fetched said gate yesterday, weight approx. 1100lbs. 5'x 6', measured only 1/8" out of sqr but top hinge eye severely worn out of round with very little iron left on one side. I couldn't bring myself to rebuild hinge with steel, just didn't feel right. I did scavange a piece of 1/2"x1"x2" off the bottom,, brought it to a welding heat a drew it out under the pwr hammer to welding rod dimension. Using a reducing flame I puddled,flowed and filled back that top hinge to original cross section. It seemed to flow almost like brazing rod. I then reemed the hole a bit oversized and pressed in a bronze bushing. With a little file work and my little Makita belt sander I removed any visible signs of my welding.
With only 1 hour of file work I just rehung this beast plumb and level and she swings with finger pressure.
My question gentlemen, was this an exercise in futility or a proper repair? Any other modalities recommended? I have a feeling the other half of this gate will be visiting with me very soon because it looks very sad next to it's partner.
   goodhors - Wednesday, 03/08/06 17:26:31 EST


TIG welding rods don't contain flux. Carbon steel one generally have a thin copper coating, but other than that, they're made up only of the designated alloy (at least as far as I've seen).
   Mike B - Wednesday, 03/08/06 18:00:09 EST

TGN: Mike is correct. I use Tig rod for all my stainless metal needs in the sub 1/4" sizes. There are a wider variety of alloys available in TIG rod than easily in the regular rods. I get them at the welding store.
   - John Odom - Wednesday, 03/08/06 18:17:19 EST

Hej ViCopper !
Stop by the Norse Hall,
111 N.E. Couch.
You can check out a gate recently created by My friends at White Hart Forge.
The Gate is inside the building, It closes off their Handicrafts sales shop.
The Building is normally open during the evenings where its rented out to dance instruction, But you could just pop in to see the gate, Its within the front lobby.
The design is a pair of Viking style Dragons above a TON of runic script. Its to commerate a Lodge Members parents/ancestors.
Construced from steel parts all forged, But TIG welded to make the final assembly.
We are very proud of it.( Have to be as I helped a bit during its construction)
   - Håkan - Wednesday, 03/08/06 22:02:07 EST

Hello Gurus, because Gurus you are indeed! Does anyone know a supplier of Cor-ten steel in 3/16 to 1/4 inch sheet plate near ontario, Canada, or if not, in the US??
With respect,
   duerst - Wednesday, 03/08/06 22:45:43 EST

Frank, Bruce and Håkan,

Thanks for the tourist information, I will put it to good use.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/08/06 23:32:34 EST


It sounds to me as though you did things as right as can possibly be done, given the fact that it would have been ridiculously difficult to get that gate onto the forge to forge-weld the repair. (grin) There is nothing any less suitable about a flame burning OA than a flame burning coal or propane. In fact, a properly adjusted OA flame has a nice nuetral characteristic just right for welding wrought iron. Good job.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/08/06 23:35:59 EST

O_A welding of wrought iron: From "Wrought Iron, Its Manufacture, Characteristics and Applications"
"The The procedure for welding wrought iron by the manualoxy-acetylene process is practically the same as that followed in welding soft steel of the same thickness...."

It suggests using a low carbon rod and neutral flame and not to mistake the melting of the slag as being the melting of the iron. It states that welds properly made will have the same strength as the parent metal. (welds will pass the ASME tests for Boiler use!)

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/09/06 00:22:13 EST

Kinyon hammer weight? Have been unable to get a response from the guy organizing the SOF&A workshop. About how much would a 50-lb Kinyon air hammer weigh when assembled? Makes a difference in what vehicle I would drive up to the workshop.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 03/09/06 06:50:46 EST

Wrought Iron welding.

I use hay wire, AKA baling wire, AKA John Deere leather lacing, for welding wrought iron and lots of mild steel projects. It is "dead soft" in terms of carbon content.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/09/06 08:19:37 EST


There is no absolute weight for a homemade hammer, but you can guess at it a bit. The desired ratio for hammer head to anvil mass is about 15:1, so a 50# hammer should have a 750# anvil. Lots of guys use less anvil, but it's better to use the most you can. The frame for the hammer, if made from W8-32 I-beam, would be around 450# if you box it properly to avoid wracking. A good base plate would be 20" by 40" by 1", so that would add another 225#. The plumbing will add another 30# for cylinder, regulator and valves. So, a total weight of around 1600# would be about right, I would think.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/09/06 08:35:52 EST

Thank you gentlemen for your input, I say with a sigh of relief. I went by this AM and checked the hinge. After yesterday's rain it has the beginnings of some rust. In a couple of months nobody will ever know I was there. I never worried about a "paying job" this much. Although , maybe I'll end up in a slightly cooler part of Hell. brian robertson
   goodhors - Thursday, 03/09/06 10:47:03 EST

Electropolishing mild steel:
Found Vicopper's answer on 01/20/06 in the archive... must have been sniffing coal that month to have missed it. In brief, he said its all an industrial secret and no one's talking, so we have to experiment carefully ourselves.

Since this could cut finishing time on some of my small, complex pieces dramatically, I'm definitely goign to start experimenting... CAREFULLY and in a very organized fashion. I have access to about half a dozen acids, plenty of materials to build a "plating tank", and a couple engineers in the family.

When I reach some semblance fo success, I'll write up a web page and let you all know. On the other hand, if you read of my death or imprisonment in the Ohio newspapers, then you know why its a secret....

Support CSI!
   MikeM OH - Thursday, 03/09/06 11:10:20 EST

Plating steel:
I've got a buddy who wants me to make him some sickles in steel, plated first with silver, then with gold. Substituting nickel and brass or something like that would be acceptable. Problem is, it seems most shops with the capacity to plate things aren't interested in small jobs. Forging is very familiar ground for me, but this is the first time I've come up agin' the idea of plating something I've made. All I know is that it has to be reeeally clean first. Is there a way for me to do this plating in a home shop? If the answer would be way too long for this forum and you can direct me to some other sources of info, that'd be fine. Unfortunately, my time is pretty limited, and I wasn't able to find the info in the archives in the short time I have on any given day for this sorta thing. Thank you very much indeed.
   Dan Roesinger - Thursday, 03/09/06 14:21:48 EST

Dan plating is a whole nother can of worms often dealing with quite toxic chemicals that require official disposal of.

Where are you at? We migh be able to suggest a small scale plater that folks have used before.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/09/06 14:26:09 EST

Thomas, I'm in northern Wisconsin. I presently only know of a couple bike shops in the area, but perhaps someone in guru-land has heard of someone I haven't. BTW, my buddy is in the Milwaukee area, so I suppose betewen the two of us, we have the whole state covered as far as getting to a plater, and I suppose even the Chicago area wouldn't be entirely out of the question.

   Dan Roesinger - Thursday, 03/09/06 14:38:05 EST

Have you talked with a local gunsmith? They sometimes seend stuff out for Ni platting.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/09/06 16:02:36 EST

We ended up, after checking with several jewelers, going to a car detailing place to have a pair of pewter chalices gold plated for my in-law's 50th anniversary. I don't know how it would work on steel. As I remember, you have to have a nickel undercoat before you add chrome, so it may be something similar to that.

Anyway, it's worth a try and they did a good job, at a reasonable price. Cheaper than what they charged for detailing a Cadillac, I'm sure.
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/09/06 16:51:22 EST

vicooper: Thank you for an estimated air hammer weight. Will definitely have to take the flat bed. For anyone planning to stop by the SOF&A shop in Troy that weekend, workshop has been postponed a week to 25-26 due to parts availability.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 03/09/06 17:24:55 EST

I have some 1 inch diameter rebar and I know it's basically junk because of it's make-up of mixed scrap steel, but would It be suitable even just for a pair of tongs? And of corse I'll draw it out to less than 1 inch. Any thoughts??
   Hillbillysmith - Thursday, 03/09/06 19:39:48 EST

I'm looking to have a dbl. bbl. shotgun honed out as it has ripples inside and was told it can be done w/a sunnen hone using a spill bore bit. Has anyone ever heard of a spill bore bit? The barrel tapers towards the muzzle on account of the choke, how can this honeing be effectively done ?
   Jo - Thursday, 03/09/06 20:09:24 EST

Dan Roesinger,

Check the big city for folks who restore car parts or old tableware. Those guys will handle small parts without a whimper...they charge enough to stay happy.

For steel, you must first plate with copper, then with silver or gold. For silver, a nickel plate ove rthe copper makes the silver a bit brighter.

As Thomas mentioned, gold plating uses chemicals that are either cyanide-based and therefore very, very toxic, or another compound that becomes unstable and explosive with age. So you picks yer poison, so to speak. I'd definitely have someone else do the job, if I were you.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/09/06 20:46:05 EST

Electrolitic polishing: No secret here. Go to a metallurgical supply company (Leco, Buehler, etc) and look up electochemical polishing. They may even have technical info on how to do it. Phosphoric acid is normally used.
   quenchcrack - Thursday, 03/09/06 20:54:43 EST


You can do it, but it won't exactly be fun; rebar can be tough stuff. It can also make tongs that may crack if dunked in the slack tub when hot. It is higher carbon that mild steel, usually.


The real question is why does the barrel have ripples in it? Is it a Damascus twist barrel? I would not let anyone but a licensed and trusted gunsmith mess about with a barrel that I expect to contain significant pressure.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/09/06 21:00:43 EST

Cor-ten steel is a patented product of US Steel. It is stocked by only a few places- best thing to do is call or email US Steel directly and ask them where to get it.
I once quoted a job, which I did not end up getting, and found NO 1/4" Cor-Ten west of Chicago.

Hemmings Motor News, an old car magazine found at good newstands, has many plating shops advertising who will be happy to plate your scythe blades, by mail order- they specialise in onesies and twosies of old car parts.
   - Ries - Thursday, 03/09/06 21:27:24 EST

Rippled or bulged shotgun barrels? Damascus? Breechloading or muzzleloading? Name of manufacturer if known, or approximate age? A bit more information would get you a more detailed answer, but Rich (Vicopper) has nailed it rather well.....a qualified gunsmith is your safest course of action.
   Ellen - Thursday, 03/09/06 21:53:54 EST

I dont know ALL the answers to re-bar,
Antique re-bar may be whatthehellever scrap mix of the day.
But newer re-bar is not an unknown crap steel. Its a engineered building material and is produced to a known quality. Depending on the 'specs, Your 1" piece of bar (Rebar is sized in 1/8" increments, For example nr.#5 bar is 1/2", nr#8 is 1") may be different grades of steel.
   - Sven - Thursday, 03/09/06 22:10:03 EST

#5 rebar is 5/8", and yes, it is made to set specifications, much like A-36 is. That is, it is made to a certain minimum tensile strength, but NOT to a specific alloy chemistry. You might get some that is red short, or red hard or just fine and dandy. But it WILL meet the tensile strength standard. And it may vary from place to place in the same bar, depending on the mill and how it was produced. Rebar from China and/or can get pretty arbitrary, even for a something with no specs other than tensile strength.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/09/06 22:26:39 EST

Junk yard steel question. Looked at reference and don't see listed, nor in the books I have here. What would be a WAG as to what steel common one-size lug wrenches might be? I know they are tough as tire shops tend to put on lugs at about 20,000 psi. I have stood on them without undue bending. In their case, is the alloy more important than carbon content? I have made punches and chisels from them in the past and really haven't noticed any difference from coil spring.
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/10/06 03:04:11 EST

LQ, have you tried tempering at a higher temp, forging the edge really thin and grinding with zercon belts?

Ken, SWAG on tire tools: 4140, 5160 or 10 series, depending on the manufacturer. A guy in our Southern Bladesmiths group treats like 5160 with good results. A blade cracked when quenched in water; better to use oil. If a file won't cut it when quenched, it's probably 1095.
   Ron Childers - Friday, 03/10/06 08:15:56 EST

While we're on the subject of junk scrap, I'm making a knife from an old lawnmower blade. Any suggestions? Quenching, hardening, all the important info.

Thanks in advance
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/10/06 11:08:51 EST


Rebar is always somewhat a crap-shoot unless you know where it's cominmg from. On one of my trips I once flew seated next to a manager from a Canadian steel company; who let me know the exacting controlls that they used with THEIR product. However, most of us just pick the stuff up from the side of the road or the construction site dumpster. Some of the worse, nasty, red-short stuff I ever dealt with was from a demolished WW-II naval barracks. It had a neat organic/barklike surface texture stamped or rolled into it, but was absolute crud when heated. (There must not have been enough high quality historic anvils in the scrap melt. ;-) If you want an exercise in frustration, I have some more back in the hedgerow. 8-P

I will say that I have better success using modern rebar with the chevron pattern than I have with the diamond pattern variety. I don't know if the pattern signifies a higher quality or not, but it sure seems that way. I took a piece of this from one of our NPS leased facilities under construction and made two "snake trivets" from it, presenting them to the builder/lessor and the facility staff. I'll have to post some pictures.

Speaking of posting pictures...

Yahoo Groups Photo Site:

With Paw Paw gone, is anyone using or moderating the Yahoo Groups photo site? I know I can post and view photos, but beyond that nothing seems to be working last time I tried. I think it went to a moderated board due to spammers, but what's the status now?

Cloudy and warm on the banks of the Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 03/10/06 11:16:14 EST

I have a few wrought iron floor lamps. I think, when they were made they were not painted but patinated. Am I correct and how would I do this?
Thanks, Mark
   m. regenthal - Friday, 03/10/06 11:34:23 EST

I just got a book called pounding out the profits and am quite pleased with it and highly recomend it.To the lawnmower blade maker they should make good blades.I made some damascus out of roto-tiller blades& mild steel that came out very well but had to water harden insted of oil to get it hard enough. I don't know if mower blades are the same' you will have to experiment.
   stroker - Friday, 03/10/06 12:12:21 EST

You got a problem with your refining first off. Iron ore and flux does not reduce you have to have a carbon donor to reduce the ore to metal and enough excess carbon to make a high carbon steel.

BTW you use charcoal for the fuel *much* better than trying to coal the wood in process.

*NO* guarentee that this is wootz damascus steel; most ores will just give you a plain old high carbon crucible steel it needs the right trace elements to make wootz. Most stuff made back then wasn't wootz either--cf Dr Ann Feuerbach's thesis "Crucible Steel in Central Asia".

Then you have to forge it at a temperature below the temp where the carbiddes will go back into solution---note if you got a very high carbon melt you may have to do a decarburization run to get an "envelope" you can forge the high C stuff in.

To get the carbide pattern developing you will need between 50 and 100 heat cycles so factor that in while forging.

When you are all done if you have trouble sharpening use a diamond sharpener---just like you would for a high alloy blade with a high RC.

I was Al Pendray's helper the Quad-State he did the Knives/Damascus demo....volunteered so I could ask a few questions about this stuff...

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/10/06 12:28:03 EST

I've make a couple of knives out of lawn mower blades. It seems to harden about like railroad spikes.

I've had the best luck with a water quench and 300 degree temper for 15-20 minutes. That holds an edge fairly well, but nothing like a coil spring or a bearing race.
   Stephen G - Friday, 03/10/06 13:51:44 EST

What does UNF and UNC mean with reference to drill bit size?
   Priscilla - Friday, 03/10/06 15:36:09 EST

UNC and UNF do not refer to drill bit sizes- they are two different standards of thread sizes for nuts and bolts.
UNC is Unified National Coarse and UNF is Unified National Fine-
So one is a coarser thread size, with fewer threads per inch, and the other has more threads.
For instance a half inch diameter bolt could be a 1/2" x 13 UNC, which would have 13 threads an inch, or a 1/2" x 20 UNF, which would have 20 threads an inch.
Most common bolts at hardware stores are UNC, coarse, except in some of the smaller sizes.
The drill bit for the bolt itself is the same size for either- a 1/2" drill, in this case.
But the tap drill, the size of drill bit you would use to drill a hole that you wanted to put threads in, varies. A 1/2" x 13 UNC would require a 27/64
bit, while a 1/2" x 20 UNF takes a 29/64" bit.
The Machinists Handbook has more info about this than you would ever need- with these, and many more obscure thread sizes and systems described at length. But there are often free thread/tap/drill bit cards available from drill bit or tap manufacturers that cover the common sizes.
I would recommend a trip to the library, and checking thru some basic texts on nuts, bolts and machining.
   - Ries - Friday, 03/10/06 16:20:45 EST

i have one question.
Question 1- what is a more powerful steel? would it be the swedish powder steel or Japanese steel for a beautiful outstanding look and strength to back it up in a 28 inch Katana or in a 22 inch wakisashi? and where can i find more information on a very powerful steel in a japanese sword?
   Aldo Martinez - Friday, 03/10/06 17:47:59 EST

nevermind my question, forget i evean posted it, the people
here seem to be nothing but low grade welders and honorles
trades men there is no awnser i could get here that i could rely on, the disgraceful way the people here have acted put shame on the blacksmithing trade, i need nothing from here, i will do this myself.
   - Nazhuret - Friday, 03/10/06 18:56:02 EST

Hey man! When you decide to say something, you had better THINK FIRST before you say someting stupid or to the wrong person. And I think that I can speak for everyone in that, that comment was completly uncalled for and is very insulting. Plus the only person here that's a disgrace to the blacksmithing trade is YOU for talking smack like that. So, the next time that you decide to open your mouth, think first and maybe do some other research rather than relying on other people to do the work for you. As far as I'm concerned, I could care less if you EVER come back to this site, because if your just going to de-grade people (of which are some of the kindest, nicest people I've met) you can get lost and find someone else to talk like that to!!!
   Hillbillysmith - Friday, 03/10/06 19:29:07 EST

I just bought a buffalo portable forge and was wondering what goes in the gear case I thought it should have been filled with oil, if so what viscosity should this be? The gears where greasd so i regreased them for the time being should i leave them like this? Also the blower is a buffoo model does anybody have any aditional information on these and are they a good blower?
Thanks alot
P.S. Mr.Nazhuret this discussion is run by voulenteers who give the best advice they can to help others expecting nothing in return. I personally owe them alot for the plethora of information and wisdom they have shared both with me and others and i wish to thank them profusely for this, if you feel they have not been helpful I am sure it isn't for lack of effort. I have nothing against your wishes to continue alone but there is no need to insult those who have tried to help you.
   - Stephen - Friday, 03/10/06 19:31:17 EST

Nazhuret, sorry but you have made another mistake. I'm a software tester for one of the top astrophysics research groups; smithing has been my primary hobby for 25 years now and I took a lot of matsci as "electives".

My particular area of interest is the history of pyroferrous processes and I have been a part of an experimental bloomery crew for over a decade and run a Y1K forge many times.

There are at least 3 professional metallurgists and a dozen or so professional smiths here as well.

My welding is attrocious except for my forge welding which I am rather good at---I'm handfinishing a pattern welded knife as my weekend project.

Dr Feuerbach listed the best written sources on Wootz and other early crucible steels on the site I sent to your yahoo address---look at her references page---I hope your address was correct if you are interested in this stuff...

For other people it was home.att.net/~moltenmuse

As far as abuse goes: I raised several battered children through their adolesence; you're not even on the meter!

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/10/06 19:58:03 EST

I was just in Harbor Freight and they had a 110# anvil
with the diagional hardy hole for $89.99. It is marked
as made in Russia. I could not find out if it was cast iron or steel. (I didn't think that getting one of their
hammers and pounding on it would go over very well so I
didn't try that either.) The workers there couldn't tell
me if it was iron or steel either. Is there any more info out about this anvil, or is it an ASO? :-)
   Keith Flick - Friday, 03/10/06 20:11:33 EST

Keith, just go get that hammer and lightly tap it. Ding = steel, Thwock = cast iron = no no.
   quenchcrack - Friday, 03/10/06 20:26:54 EST

Hey guys, don't feed the troll.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/10/06 20:34:51 EST

Mark Regenthal,

If they were truly wrough iron, that is iron made before about 1920 with silaceous inclusions and almost no carbon, they were probably japanned. If later manufacture, they may have nothing more than factory mill scale and perhaps some clear coating. Or they might be painted. They were probably not "patinated", as patinas are oxides and notoriously unstable in iron, thus they rust pretty quickly.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/10/06 20:39:32 EST


The Yahoo photo site went the way of too many things when Jim Wilson passed away. He was the moderator and the only one with the password to admit new posters. Some of us in CSI have been working on a way to get a new, spam-free photo site that is easy to post on and easy to moderate, but there are a one or two stumbling blocks just yet. When and if we manage to pull it off, we'll certainly post an announcement.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/10/06 20:57:34 EST

Keith Flick: On the H-F anvil, go to the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in upper right and then down to FAQs, then look at first entry for anvil selection. Comments on the Russian (or Chinese) imports there. Note in particular comments concerning the inherent weakness of the heel caused by the diagonal/diamond hardy hole.

Note about half way down the initial review it mentions another Russian import of apparent higher quality. One seller on eBay now has listings for a 110 and 150-ish one which sounds like this one. Hardy hole is not diamond to sides and is given 1" on both weights. However, they also have a fixed (high) shipping fee.

eBay sellers are now somewhat going after each other with each claiming to have a higher quality anvil than the others.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/11/06 00:20:29 EST

Keith Flick: P.S. I have heard, but can't confirm, H-F outlets no longer carry cast iron anvils. They apparently were too bad for even H-F.

If someone has their heart set on one though, Grizzly has them in several weights clearly listed as such.

Just a comment on H-F. Apparently the on-line/catalog part is a different entity from the retail outlets. Have been told it is same family, with a father/uncle having the on-line/catalog and kids having the retail outlet aspect. A friend when into the H-F in Nashville to purchase an item he saw in a catalog. Outlet price was higher, but they dropped it to catalog price once shown it. I do not know if this is policy for all outlets.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/11/06 00:27:21 EST

Nazurhet, I will be as civil as possible, if you don't care to learn then the fine people here don't care to teach you. Please leave this site and never come back until you get an atitude adjustment. I'm sorry you are to arrogant to learn from the many experienced people here who would otherwise have liked to help you.
   - youngsmith - Saturday, 03/11/06 00:34:16 EST

"Low grade welders and honorles trades men"? there is no "awnser"? Naz, before you start spouting hate here, go back to school and learn how to spell. "i will do this myself" you say. Good. That's the best way to learn, through your won trail and error. But it's a smart idea to learn from others mistakes. At this forum there is over 300 years of cumulative smithing experience to lend their help. I for one see the Guru's Den as an incomparable limited source of information, you are a fool. Go ahead, do it on your own. Go find out on your own why it's not a good idea to forge galvanized in an enclosed space.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 03/11/06 10:01:00 EST

Ken, the H-F near me has a whole bunch of cast anvils. Interesting fact about the family behind the business. H-F does have a policy though, if any H-F catalog or online price is lower than at a retail outlet, they will match it.
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 03/11/06 10:05:15 EST

This is an email I sent to Atli with a question about William Foster anvil from 1829, which is missing the horn...
At 05:18 PM 3/10/06 -0600, you wrote:
>Hey Bruce its Matt, I heard a rumor of the possibility of getting my new
>Anvil repaired. By the way I can't thank you enough for thinking of me
>when you saw it and going to get it for me. I was talking to a guy with
>the ABANA I believe its called (He says Hi by the way. His name is Sam
>Salvati)and he mentioned the possibility of gettin the horn replaced.
>Wondering if you had any input... Thanks.
   Matt Brenzo - Saturday, 03/11/06 10:31:43 EST

I have Buffalo blower on my forge too. I find them generaly good blowers, not excellent like a Royal, or Cannedy Otto, but good. For oiling I use chainsaw bar oil. Those blowers do not have sealed bearings so don't think you have to fill the gear housing full. I just give my blower a squirt or two of oil in the morning when I start, and after dinner, and anytime inbetween when the gears start sounding like they need oil. Originaly I think they were intended to be lubricated with machine oil which is a sticky oil compared to the oil in your cars crankcase. The old saying "Oil is cheaper than parts" may be cliqued, but it's still true.
This answer brought to you by the letters CSI and the colour blue
   JimG - Saturday, 03/11/06 11:18:26 EST

Non Smithing Observation On Trolls: There seems to be, at least to me, a recognizable pattern here: atrocious desecration of the written language, an arrogant attitude, and a desire not to learn, but to disrupt. Seems a good idea to check out the email address if given, and google the user name (as thought of by a smarter smith than I) and see if that leads you to a fantasy game or similar. The quicker we get rid of these pests, the better for our site. And my blood pressure. I'm all for helping **sincere** newer smiths, heck I'm still learning....a lot....and I hope I always do; wouldn't be where I'm at today without the generous help and knowledge sharing of so many here and accross the street. Thanks to all!
   Ellen - Saturday, 03/11/06 12:23:37 EST

Sticky Oils: well motor oil is made to be non sticky, but many bicycle shops carry a product called "Phil's Tenacious Oil" and it is one stickly oil. Put a few drops of that on your chain and it's there a couple of hundred miles or more later. It might well be worth while trying Phil's on your blower. It costs a bit more than motor oil, but have you priced new crank blowers lately? The oil is still cheaper. Much cheaper.
   Ellen - Saturday, 03/11/06 12:27:12 EST

Quickest way to get rid of problem posters IS TO IGNORE THEM> Olain and simple. SO learn from this.
   Ralph - Saturday, 03/11/06 14:38:11 EST

I have a Fisher anvil, 150#, dated 1891. It has never been used. It has some rust on it, which hides the sharp corners underneath.
I want to sell it. Should I take the rust off of it? I would rather sell it to a collector. Should this sell for thie highest amount you specified for an anvil this size? YOu wrote that almost all old anvils have damage. Should an antique anvil that was never used bring a higher price than you specified? I appreciate your help. I have not been able to find answers to these questions.

Thank you.
   nancy - Saturday, 03/11/06 17:40:56 EST

Nancy: IMHO there is nothing particular special about your Fisher anvil which would interest a collector. I doubt it would sell for significantly more than a lightly used one. Fisher was the first and last major U.S. anvil manufacturer and they are one of the most common anvils available.

Antique is a relative term as many of that era are still in daily use.

I don't remember name, but someone was trying to create a Fisher museum in New Jersey. Richard Postman said they wanted an example of each type and weight of the anvils they produced. Perhaps someone on the forum knows who this is and how you might contact him for a potential direct sale.

I would put value at $1.50 to $2.50 pound.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/11/06 17:47:47 EST

Thanks Jim and Ellen I will try both of your suggestions, but should I degrease the gears or leave the grease?
   - Stephen - Saturday, 03/11/06 17:54:11 EST

If the grease is not irreversibly hard and making the cranking energy higher than need be, I would leave it alone. The oil, and use will soon enough wash it out from where it's at.

Got to thinking. Haven't checked lately but used to be some of the STP and similar oil additives use to stop "smoking" are stick. Maybe mixing one of those with your motor oil would give you a good sticky oil a bit cheaper than Phil's. I'd try the Phil's first though.
   Ellen - Saturday, 03/11/06 18:14:39 EST

Is Guru back. Maybe he can look up and post the trolls personal information. We could then sign him/her up for the Federal Prison Pen-Pale Program. BOG!!
   - Burnt Forge - Saturday, 03/11/06 18:35:38 EST

Oil for blower gearboxs.
A very good oil, especially good if using in cold temps is ATF. Has the lowest pour point, and about the best extreme pressure lubrication package of any of the automotive oils. If you have an industrial distributor handy, a EP-32 gear oil is also very good.
The ATF is nice and available and cheap.
   - ptree - Saturday, 03/11/06 21:07:21 EST

Just a newbie, but I'm trying to make some gouges for a wood lathe (read BIG) I was told lawn mower blades were a cheap source for hi-speed tool steel. Is this true? Or is there a better choice of steel (besides tungsten carbide) for this endeavor.
   Joe - Saturday, 03/11/06 21:50:42 EST


At the QuadState get-together las September, I saw a 100# Fisher anvil that was absolutely brand new. It still had the factory decal and cosmoline on it. Richard Postman, author of "Anvils in America", estimated that its value to a collector would be around $1000, or $10/lb. That one was truly exceptional in that it had never been used even once. By contrast, I purchased a mint condition 250# Fisher a year ago for a bit over $1.50/lb, which was a good deal.

Josh Kravett has been building the Fisher and NOrris museum in New Jersey for some years now. You can probably Google him for a contact number.

   vicopper - Saturday, 03/11/06 22:36:37 EST


Blades for homeowner-type lawn mowers, if manufactured in the past ten years or so, are medium carbon steel at best. Liability concerns, vis-a-vis broken pieces flying around after a close encounter with a rock, have made the manufacturers' attorney very chary about using high carbon steel.

High-speed tool steel is best obtained new from a known source, if you want to realize the maximum potential of such an alloy. You'll also need a temperature/time controlled heat treating oven, preferably inert atmosphere type, as high-speed steel is very picky about its heat treatment.

I would recommend instead that you check out the flea markets and junk shops for old worn out files. Those are likely to be 1095 carbon steel, or thereabouts, and straightforward to heat treat by blacksmith methods. The bigger ones will make some pretty sizeable gouges.

You can also use old bearing races, which are often 52100 steel. They're a good bit tougher to forge, but they take and hold a very keen edge. Some bearing races are case-hardened lower carbon steel, so you might want to check on one of the bladesmithing forums for some better guidance.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/11/06 22:45:31 EST

Joe: To expand on vicopper's advice about the files, if You can grind the shape You want, You can avoid having to heat treat the steel, just don't let it turn color from excessive heat when grinding. High speed steels are not needed untill the tool exceeds 300 degrees F in use, so wood working tools don't need to be high speed. If You were going to buy new material, You can buy tool steel in 18" lengths fully anealed and ground to size, often called gage stock. Heat treating process is often printwed on the package. O1,A2&D2 are generally available,O1 is the easiest to work with and cheapest, D2 is hardest to work with and most expensive, but has the greatest wear resistance, to the point of being dificult to grind. "You pays Your money and makes Your choice"
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/11/06 23:40:20 EST

Sir, I have a trenton 298 lb.anvil.
It is in very good condition.
I was wondering if you could give me some back ground
as to when it might have been made. And what it is
worth. NO it is not for sale.
I would appreciate any info. you could give me.
Thank you for time and any info. you can give me.
Thank you very much.
Ken Martin MD PC
   Ken Martin MD - Saturday, 03/11/06 23:42:26 EST

Sir, I have a trenton 298 lb.anvil.
It is in very good condition.
I was wondering if you could give me some back ground
as to when it might have been made. And what it is
worth. NO it is not for sale.
I would appreciate any info. you could give me.
Thank you for time and any info. you can give me.
Thank you very much.
Ken Martin MD PC
   Ken Martin MD - Saturday, 03/11/06 23:48:46 EST

Ken Martin,

There should be some serial numbers on the base, the horn side. Having those in hand, we might be able to date it and tell you more. They were made by the Columbus Iron and Forge Company between 1898 and 1952.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/12/06 00:19:00 EST

Matt Brenzo's Anvil:o
I'm sort of torn by this. I don't see how a horn could be sturdily welded on without messing with the temper of the face. I could be wrong though. Given the good condition of the face, it appears that the horn came adrift early in it's career (without the benefit of d@mn Yankee cavalrymen) and the piece was relegated to secondary duty. Except for some weld marks around the perimeter of where the horn used to be (either the remains of the first horn's incomplete weld or a later unsuccessful attempt to re-weld a horn on with modern equipment) the horn end is almost smooth.

So, ladies and gentlement of the collective guruship, what do you think? Give it a try or avoid it like the pla..., er, bird flu?

Lawnmower Blades:

I use them for small knife blades in an early medieval context; but in that context medium carbon steel is pretty much "cutting edge." Everybody has a sharpening stone, anyway, so this keeps their hands busy in camp. :-)

Sorting Out trolls:

It's sometimes difficult to tell trolls from overenthusiastic beginners. Like Thomas, I try to feed them straight answers until they learn something or go crazy and run around the ceiling dripping green slime. I've put up "Troll Alerts" before and been wrong, so I try to more careful and tolerant now. THAT SAID; I think the latest little creature was pretty nasty and won't be missed. Some folks you have to help along with a pat on the back, and others you want to poke with a sharp stick.

...and speaking of sharp sticks- I finished rehafting my resocketed spearhead today and have almost completed my saucer brooch for the Anglo-Saxon camp at Jamestown Settlement next weekend. If anybody in the area wants to drop by, it's well worth the visit just to see all of the nice arms and armor in the other camps. No forge this year, but there are usually some active in the other camps, and there's always the forge in the fort.

Downright warm on the banks of the lower Potomac. Ship work tomorrow, putting a hatch in the lyfting (quarterdeck) after church.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Sunday, 03/12/06 00:38:57 EST

JOE: I made a pretty nice patch knife with a deer spike handle, out of a high speed steel metal lathe parting tool(cutoff tool), by the "stock removal" (read: grinding)method. One of the guys over at forgemagic, whose name escapes me, makes and sells wood turning tools with golf club handles and those little triangular carbide tool bit inserts. If I find his web address, I'll post it, unless someone beats me to it. He makes LOTS of other slick stuff too.
   3dogs - Sunday, 03/12/06 03:17:12 EST

3dogs: I've made several scrapers form files with the stock removal method, but a u-shaped gouge would take a pretty thick file. Just finished building a forge out of a 2'x4' 1/4" plate and a 14" weld-cap for the fire box running a 6" squirrel cage blower total cost for material was about $139. Fired it up the other day with Kingsford and I thought I was looking into the gates of hell
   Joe - Sunday, 03/12/06 03:48:25 EST

Ken Martin:

Be aware there are two separate Trenton brand anvils with the same name within a flattened diamond logo. According to Richard Postman in Anvils in America, the first one was imported from Germany by Hermann Boker on behalf of the Trenton (NJ) Vise and Tool Co., perhaps cicra 1860-1890s. When Columbus (OH) Forge and Iron Co. started making anvils the initial brand name was BUEL (one of the founders I believe). Somehow they connected with H. Boker and then used the Trenton name and logo. Mr. Postman feels TV&T may have gone out of business, Trenton was already an established brand name for a quality anvil, so it make good business sense to use it rather than trying to establish a reputation for a new brand.

An oval shaped depression in the base is typical Trenton, but one Swedish anvil also had it, and not all CF&I Trentons have it. According to Postman they purchased the anvil bases from other companies. However, if they didn't have one available, and particularly for large anvils, they might forge their own with a flat bottom.

A serial number on the front foot would confirm it as a CF&I and, as Frank Turley noted, it can be cross-referenced to year of manufacture. However, even here not all of what appear to be CF&I anvils were stamped with a serial number, possibility indicating a second/reject to be sold in the secondary market rather than being scrapped.

Your local library may be able to obtain an intra-library loan of Anvils in America. It has an extensive chapter on Trentons. It is also available in the Anvilfire Store. Just use the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in the upper right and then scroll down to STORE.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/12/06 08:54:05 EST


Charcoal briquettes are not very good for forging. You'll probably be a lot happier with real "natural lump" charcoal. Though I think Kingsford markets that as well now, so maybe that's what you're using.
   Mike B - Sunday, 03/12/06 10:17:16 EST

A bit ago there was a discussion on how someone might forge sitting down. Take a look at the figurine in eBay #6261915043. Actually might not be a bad position as it gives full access to the sweetspot on the anvil, the horn and, to a limited degree, the hardy hole. Would certainly need something like a leather apron though.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/12/06 10:24:33 EST


I am a beginner smith, with a little bit of instruction and some practice time already under my belt. As it happens, I'm not a very big guy (about 5'7") and, more importantly, I have pretty small hands, even for my size.

So, I find that I spend half of my time, as I'm working, trying to keep a hold on my tongs. I have a pair of 11" tongs and I still have to almost fully splay my hand to hang onto them. Consequently, I'm having a lot of trouble hanging onto my pieces and I have to set my hammer down and use both hands if I need to change the way I'm holding the piece.

Is there anything I can do? All the tongs out there seem to be made for people with big hands! I'm thinking about bending my tongs so that the ends are closer together.

I was thinking about putting a couple of 90 degree bends in one handle, like this:


Any other suggestions or ideas (or pictures of how you've seen folks bend tongs to suit small hands) would be appreciated.

Thank you.
   Shawn Shaw - Sunday, 03/12/06 11:54:11 EST


A lot of grocery stores carry "real" charcoal and not briquettes. Often made of mesquite. A tad more pricey, but much better to work with. Coal or coke would be best simply due to available heat and relative cost. If you can burn coal in your area. Some places go berserk if you light a coal fire. Coal may be purchased from Centaur Forge, Blacksmith's Depot, and Pieh Tool Co, all available under advertisers in the pull down menu top right.

If you have horses anywhere around you will have working farriers, and their worn out hoof rasps will be 1/4" thick about 1 3/4" wide, and about 14" long. Often these are free for the asking, if not a couple of bucks should do the trick. You can put a simple "U" in the rasp longways and grind from there, then reharden and retemper.

Shawn, if you have an oxy-acetylene torch you can put your tongs in a vise and heat the reins (handles) just above the rivet joint area, then bend them to suit your hand. I have to do that with all my tongs, small hands also.
   Ellen - Sunday, 03/12/06 12:25:00 EST

Anyone have a tonal scale corresponding to length of and diameter of pipes? I want to make a xylaphone style instrument with pipes inserted into a flat piece of plywood. Thanks,
Jeremy Pugh
   forge freind - Sunday, 03/12/06 12:33:47 EST

Years ago I used to get a lot of stuff powdercoated. My powdercoater also did the painting for a guy who made wind chimes- he made hundreds a month, and sold them at craft and ren faires all over the southwest.
The guy who made the chimes tuned every single one by ear- he took each tube, already cut to the "right" length, and hit it so it chimed, listened, and sanded some a bit, some a bit more.
So for perfect pitch, you need to fine tune em- I guess thats why the call it fine "tuning".
   ries - Sunday, 03/12/06 12:42:16 EST

Shawn Shaw,

Forget the right angle idea. Smooth bending is much easier.

Smiths change the tong reins and jaws all the time. Comfort is important. I normally use the vise and a long heat. The heat should cover the jaws, rivet area, and at least two to three inches into the reins behind the rivet bosses. Grab a room temperature "sizer" piece between the jaws, and squeeze the hot jaws in the vise, all being horizontal. Adjust the reins until they are parallel and slightly farther apart than a hammer handle width. While bending the reins, you may need to tap on them with a hammer while hanging onto the end with your holding hand.

When released from the vise, you work the reins back and forth at a heat until cool. Otherwise the tong may "freeze" or bind. Sometimes you need to tighten up the rivet. If so, again, work them at a red heat until eased.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/12/06 14:35:33 EST

I would greatly appreciate some advice....I'm making my first folding knife and am not sure what to do about a spring. I use 1084 for blades ,will this work for the spring,and shoud I harden and temper the same as for the blade.I quench in peanut oil and temper in a toaster oven.Thanks
   - arthur - Sunday, 03/12/06 15:02:14 EST

Forge Friend, do a search on wind chimes. There used to be a website that would calculate the proper lengths for each note based upon material, diameter and wall thickness.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/12/06 15:33:35 EST


I think you could make a spring out of 1084, but it might be a bother. After quenching quickly in oil at a cherry red, you'd probably need to temper way above the toaster oven capacity, more like 590ºF to 630ºF. If you remove scale after hardenting, you're shooting for the temper colors of pale blue to a "gray-green".

Another route to go. Get a small coil spring like a car hood spring, straighten, and forge it to size. When it air cools, it usually has enough spring without further heat treatment. Many of them are 5160 or a similar silicon-manganese steel.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/12/06 15:44:22 EST

Joe, like mike said, use regular coal or coke, not charcoal. For the gaug, you can use a horseman's rasp like Ellen said. Personally, I wouldn't buy one just for that, their about $15-$20. Do you have old wood chisels? Just bend lengthwise and re-heat treat. Maybe use some old leaf-spings, you can get these pretty thick. If you could forge-weld, you could put together 2, maybe 3 files and draw-out to the size you need. I, personally would try the springs, by I haven't made any gauges before, so don't take my advise royally. it's just a thought. But PLEASE don't use charcoal!!! It doesn't get that hot nearly as fast. I DO KNOW that for a fact, 'cause I've tried.
   Hillbillysmith - Sunday, 03/12/06 18:46:00 EST

Real hardwood charcoal, not pressed briquettes, will get just as hot as coal, and a bit faster at that. When it comes to making a forging fire, carbon is carbon, pretty much. Folks were using charcoal for forging for several centuries before coal was discovered, and plenty of folks use it still.

Those who use briquettes usually only do it once, as they find out how truly crappy they are. After trying them for forging, some folks won't even use them for barbecuing again, once they see all the clinker and trash that are included in briquettes.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/12/06 19:52:46 EST


Downside to charcoal in my book anyway is just that is soooo much more expensive than coal or coke, and it burns fast, too. It is a very clean fire, and lived I in an area with lots of trees then I would make charcoal and use that. I won't use briquettes for cooking anything on my grill. The real stuff gives a much better flavor.

There are some pictures across the street posted by Mike Diebert who is doing smithing instruction in Central America, and he makes his own charcoal, or rather his students do. Lots of trees there. He's doing some very nice smithing work too.
   Ellen - Sunday, 03/12/06 22:22:34 EST

No doubt about it, charcoal is less dense than mineral coal, and so you use more volume for the same amount of heat. And it does burn down faster than coal because it is cleaner and lighter. You can control that somewhat with a firepot designed expressly for charcoal, but you'll still have sparks and ash wafting around no matter what you do. The clean burning aspect of charcoal is a real plus if you want to do tricky forge welds, though.

With all the trees down here, I should use charcoal more than I do, since I can't get coal at a price I can live with. But I'm lazy and have become hooked on the gas forge. I still use charcoal now and again, but not as often as I probably should. I use coal so rarely that every time I do, I have to relearn fire control. (grin)
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/12/06 22:40:16 EST

Making charcoal - The method they are using in Mike's pictures looks pretty much like the way they made it here in Pensylvania long ago for the iron furnaces. Much of it was made in the location where the trees grew, I guess because it is a lot lighter to transport than wood.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/12/06 22:45:41 EST

Hey Frank, thanks for that tidbit. I too an planning my first folder. I have a few knife blanks that are too short even for a half tang, so I figured I should take the next step. I was planning on a liner lock, any suggestions for scales, clip, etc.?
   - Nippulini - Monday, 03/13/06 01:14:04 EST

I do a bit of blacksmithing down here in australia and I'm
having a bit of fun with some of the stuff on I Forge at my demo's. Bill Epps Wisard's in particular. in his demo he mentions a cowboy with a hat with a brim on it.
(Wizard with a hat with brim )
I was wondering how this was done,is it on the web anywhere
or could you tell me how this is done.
hope some one may beable to help'
down under
   Dinny - Monday, 03/13/06 06:18:34 EST

JEREMY PUGH; Try http;//www.phy.mtu.edu/~suits/windchime.html
   3dogs - Monday, 03/13/06 08:02:46 EST

JEREMY PUGH; BTW thinwall electrical conduit can give you a pretty good ring.
   3dogs - Monday, 03/13/06 08:06:50 EST

Hammer forging website:
Someone on forgemagic has a blog, http://www.truepathsmithing.blogspot.com/ with some pretty good info on there, including forging a hammer. Nice pictures of the eye punch, showing the taper that Frank was talking about.

   - Marc - Monday, 03/13/06 08:38:33 EST

I have been looking for a pictorial history of coal forges. Can you help me? I'm 69 years old and have been smithing for 4 years. I've looked every where but can't find anything. Thank you very much.
   George Magsig - Monday, 03/13/06 08:53:12 EST

Shawn, eleven" is rather short- no give. if you use tongs with longer, tapering springy reins you can squeeze them together on the work and jam the ends into a holder. Different sizes of conduit work well for me. Look up tong making on iforge. Several ways to make them.
   Ron Childers - Monday, 03/13/06 09:33:11 EST


There is some further historical information on early modern (actually, into the 20th century) charcoal making techniques at the following two NPS sites:



On a smaller, medieval scale:


...and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where they're small, oblong, and take advantage of old corrugated roofing to save time and labor and shoveling a lot of dirt:


And, lastly, rick burning at the Jack Daniel's distillery, my favorite "lazy man's" method. Wood, fire, a hose, a rake and a sense of timing:

   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 03/13/06 09:38:26 EST

George Magsig,

I've wondered about coal forge history. I doubt if it could be found in one volume. That would require extensive research, including Old World study, perhaps back to the 14th century. It would be a good thesis for someone majoring in Early Technology.

In combing the literature a bit, I suppose nearly all coal forges were side blast rather than bottom blast until in the U.S, about the 1860s. At that time and following, a number of bottom blast ideas started coming into the U.S. Patent Office. For whatever reason, most Americans jumped on the band wagon and switched to bottom blast. My large 1894 catalog* has eight pages of forges, many with metal hoods and geared blowers beneath. All shown are of iron and/or steel construction. Some are huge "Stationary Blast Forges" of cast iron construction, bottom blast. There is one page depicting 18 different "Tuyer Irons". One of them is the side blast "Water Tuyer", found often in Britain to this day*. The rest is an odd assortment of bottom blast irons, the oldest probably being a so called "Duck Nest", a conical side entry to a flat, hollow cylinder with a hole at the top. There is no fire pot. I suppose we're talking about the kind of duck who builds a nest upon the ground.

Bellows were still being sold at the time.

*A diagram of the British side blast, water cooled "tuyere nose", still often used, is shown in "The Blacksmith's Craft" and Peter Parkinson's "The Artist Blacksmith".

*Manning, Maxwell and Moore. "Illustrated Catalogue of Railway and Machinists' Tools & Supplies. New York and Chicago, January, 1894.

Aldren Watson has some information on the early American brick forges in his book, "The Village Blacksmith".
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/13/06 10:32:07 EST

Since it’s spring time and a lot of people around here ( NC ) are starting to till the garden and we may get this question anyway.
The back story:
I had to replace the tines on my troy-bilt, They were worn out and looked a lot like a knife already sooooo. I thought I would make my first knife I fired up the forge (gas) Sat and put one in and commenced to reshape the back end of it. I was doing pretty good, till the phone rang and by the time I got the piece out it was a yellow color and with one hit it broke in half, not around the holes , after it cooled the broken ends looked like sand grains. I haven’t done a spark test yet.

The questions : What happened? At what temp should I work it ( I have 15 more pieces )? or are these worthless scrap?
   daveb - Monday, 03/13/06 10:39:43 EST

hi a question and a comment

I first used those exact tiller tines you mentioned (still do) and my grandfather also melted one his first go at it however in my forge (coal) I get them cherry red brush the scaled off and hammer away

now for the question I was thinking of making a bushhook blade do you think I should use a harrow disk (I like to use scrap) or look elsewhere for 1095 or 5160
   freddy - Monday, 03/13/06 12:02:45 EST

You who are starting into blades:

May I suggest checking out www.knifenetwork.com/forum/index.php , scroll down to the custom knife discussions area, newbie's arena. There's lots of folks willing to help with any aspect of bladesmithing, be it folder springs, liners, handles, or what scrap does best for which use.

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from asking bladesmithing questions here, by any means! I'm just suggesting a very good resource for this specialized area of smithing.

And now for some answers:
TGN: Titanium is a favorite for liner locks, but hard brass shim stock works well too.

Dave B: You overheated it. The sandy stuff is grain, which you need to keep as small as possible. Forge in the orange range, and normalize the grain by heating to just above non-magnetic and allow to cool slowly in still air. I don't know what steel they are, but they're tough enough for blades.

Freddy: Harrow disks work fine. They are typically something like 1065, 1070, or 1095 anyway.
   Alan-L - Monday, 03/13/06 13:18:09 EST

I would like to thank everyone for their input on my knife question. This is what I love about this community- everyone helping everyone else out. I will have to say that I will take several of you up on your offer for sending steel out here. It is hard to come by. I have your address' and will email you soon, when I get a chance. Email is hard to come by sometimes here. The only one I dont' have an email for is "arthur". If you could email me, I can correspond with you. Again I thank you all for the support and sincerely appriciate the help. You keep this site open and I'll help keep the wolf from the door. May God bless you all and God bless America.

Sergeant K
   - SGT K (matt) - Monday, 03/13/06 13:27:56 EST

William Foster anvil: I have an 1828 one missing the heel and almost all the face---Postman told me they were not top of the line anvils, using rather lowgrade WI.

History of coal forges: well you would need to look at a lot of stuff all over the world for that. Note that forges tended to be mansonry structures build on the site and so every one could be different depending on what *that* smith told the mason to build.

I'm guessing you are not interested in Medieval (there are a couple shown in "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel", Gies & Gies---but hard to tell if they are coal or charcoal forges) or renaissance forges (see "De Re Metallica", Agricola for large versions)

Coming into more "modern" times you have "Mechanics Exercises", Joseph Moxon for 1650-1700's, Diderot's Encyclopedia for about a century later and "Practical Blacksmithing" for about a century after that. Then you go the the Sears & Roebuck catalog reprints...

Shawn, look into tong clips or holders that will keep the tongs gripping the piece with *no* force from your hand---sort of a pre-visegrip method then your hand only has to maneuver the tongs.

Folks remember that tools are not sacrosanct---if they are not doing their job correctly modify them till they are! We're *BLACKSMITHS*! We can even deal with heat treat!

For heavy duty lathe work HSS is the standard where carbise is not available the tip of the tool will get quite hot in contact with wood spinning at high rate of speed. Unfortunately, as has been mentioned, heat treat of HSS is very tricky and not for the home hobbiest Now many wood planer blades can now be found in HSS so stock removal of them would work for many types of turning tools but not for gouges.

I worked with a bowl turner who was switching to carbide metal lathe inserts mounted on plain metal stock curved to go where he wated it to go.--He was amazed the first time I headed up some heavy stock and handed it to him and told him to bend it as he wanted it---about a month later he had his own forge...

Trolls: as long as we are putting out information and not getting into namecalling I figure we're doing what this site is designed for.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/13/06 13:29:25 EST

I'm not sure how you would make a cowboy hat but I do know how to make a baseball cap. It is very simple.
1. draw out top of bar making it thinner but keeping it the same width.

2.Bend the top 5/8" of the taper 90 deg. away from the side the face will be on.

3.Half way between the bend you just made and his forehead fold it back against itself so that the first bend you made is sticking out like a hat bill.

   - Tyler Murch - Monday, 03/13/06 13:38:24 EST

Adjusting Tongs: Shawn, if tongs are hard to hold onto then they are improperly fitted or bad tongs. However, do not decide they are bad tongs until you have some experiance.

FIRST: All tongs should be fitted to the work AND to your grip. I too have small hands and have trouble using tongs adjusted for others. However, number one rule NEVER adjust someone elses tongs without permission. But tong fit to th WORK is a safety issue. Uuderstand the difference.

SECOND: Tongs should have light enough reins to spring by hand. Without the spring you cannot get a tight grip AND excessive shock is transmitted to your hands. Good hand made tongs have tapered reins that flex fairly uniformly. Good factory tongs have steps that act like taper AND have properly sized reins for the size of the tongs. Now, this is also a personal "fit". If you do not have a strong grip then you need lighter tongs than someone with a very strong grip.

THIRD: After much experiance in the shop you will easily recognize good tools and bad tools but you will also adapt more easily to the tools on hand. For tasks done one brief time you will put up with cludgy tools. But for tasks you do every day it is most efficient to take the time to adjust tools to you needs.

ADJUSTMENT: Assuming tongs of the proper type but a bad fit (sprung out of shape, previously refitted. . ) the easiest way to get a good fit is to heat the joint of the tongs to a medium red, grip a sample piece of stock, clamp the tongs to the sample in a vise then spread and adjust the reins to the proper feel. Do not kink or offset the reins, adjust them at the joint.

Work should not hang or snag in tongs. They should be a loose enough fit that work falls out when you want it to. Certain tongs that fit around work like V-grip tongs can be well fitted and never hang.

Fit those tongs! Its part of the job.
   - guru - Monday, 03/13/06 13:48:31 EST

Thanks Allen, No discouragement felt. I just thought I would give a blade a shot since the scrap was already shaped pretty close. By-the-way I was in Johnson City this weekend for a concert. I was working in the orange range with no problems, except the telephone.
   daveb - Monday, 03/13/06 14:18:40 EST

Sgt. K: Be glad to send you some O-1. Randall makes lots of their knifes out of that. I can get 5160 if you would rather use that. Thanks for being there for the rest of us!

Dinny: I've seen some awfully nice cowboy hats made using steel fender washers--good diameter and they look great. Can you get pix via email o.k. or should I post a pic for you over at ForgeMagic? Just let me know. My email comes up by clicking on my name.
   Ellen - Monday, 03/13/06 14:19:27 EST

Illustrated History of Forges: Alex Bealer has a few in The Art of Blacksmithing. However, as a progression it is complicated and there is no diffinitive progression based on a time line or improved technology.

Forges start as a hole in the ground or a simple fire pit. Next is a fire pit with a tuyeer. Tuyeers (on kilns) started as an assembly of stones and dirt, then were ceramic tubes. Both were used side by side for milinia. Masonry forges are an elevated hole in the ground but vary by culture and many in the East still prefer them in the ground while in the West we prefer them raised to table top level. You have both brick and stone forges but you must rember that the technology to fire clay into bricks and ceramic tubes as well as make refractory mortar predates the age of metals so a stone forge was an anachonism from the first. Eventually metal forges made by large manufacturers become commmon in the 1800's some 3000 years after the start of the iron age. Some of these emulate the best masonary forge, some emulate the hole in the ground. Variety was nearly infinite but broke down into five basic types if you ignore the air systems and auxillary hardware. These were bottom blast in a firepot, bottom blast in a flat pan, side blast, side blast with water cooled tuyeer and the rare water cooled bottom blast.

This brings up the subject of air systems. They have varied greatly from the hide over pit, to paired wine skin, single and double bellows, piston bellows, water blast, hand, steam and electric blowers as well as central air via blower or air compressor (piston OR screw). From the double champered bellows of which there are several types up to central compressed air systems almost every one has been used with all the forges. Today it is not unusual to find a pit forge in India fired with an electric blower.

Some forges included smoke screens or stacks and some were enclosed. Manufactured forges as weel as some hand built included water troughs, tool racks and work supports. These are things that are options and add-ons to forges of every period.

SO. . . somewhere you have to decide on how far your study wants to go. Manufactured forges came in round, square, rectangular and oval shapes. Are each of these a different type?

The most "primitive" early forge worked almost identically to the most modern solid fuel forge. A bowl shape to hold the fire, air introduced near the bottom. The size and shape were perfected thousands of years ago. Everything else is a matter of materials and packaging.
   - guru - Monday, 03/13/06 14:32:50 EST

I was trying to build a small forge (coffee can sized) for making nails. It just seems like such a waste of fuel to use the big forge. Anyway, I built a half inch burner thinking that would be small enough, but it just pushes the flame out the end of the forge. If I turn it down and choke it back it doesn't burn very hot. Has anyone built a smaller burner for such an operation? If so, what size burner tube did you use? I'll figure out the rest. Thanks in advance.
   MIKE - Monday, 03/13/06 14:46:49 EST

Dinny-cowboy with hat made from fender washer. Picture posted at Forgemagic.com, well worth looking at. It is in the Gallery, under recent, and also under my name. Let me know if you have questions. Not my work but I know how it is done....grin!
   Ellen - Monday, 03/13/06 15:04:24 EST

Nailforge: The ones I have seen have been built off a regular "plumber's" propane torch; the nifty ones use the torch with the piezo electric starter built in. You can get kits to run such a torch off a BBQ propane bottle.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/13/06 15:55:50 EST

Mike, Like Thomas said. . Use a commercial torch. The orifice in these is microscopic (less than .010"), you don't want to have to try to drill it. The internal structure is also very well designed. If you need many can be unscrewed from the valve/bottle adaptor and will work on a bulk tank.
   - guru - Monday, 03/13/06 16:11:04 EST

This isn't as much of a question as a solution. I was making a buyer a ball stake. Shaft is 1" thick wall tubing, reinforced by 3/4" round inside. Needed to put on a hardy hole stop. I had been using large lock washers, with so-so results. No idea why I thought of it, but I took a piece of 1/4" x 1/4" and tack welded it at one corner, reversed and held in vise while I heated the next corner with the oxy/ace to bend stock over. Repeated until I came back to original end and tack welded again. Then a light bead above the stock to the tubing. One end was sharp, but a bit of grinder work made the four corners more or less uniform. Fairly quick process. Probably a very old technique I just don't remember seeing done before.

On trolls, there are trolls and there are trolls. I have been told there are troll forums where they meet to discuss their latest mischief. Disrupting a forum gets them so many points. Getting banded from a forum is a bunch of points. Usually attacked are forums which don't require registration or verification of an e-mail address to post. I have seen them take down one forum.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/13/06 16:24:44 EST

Thanks all for the info, Is a forge welding temperature possible in a small forge like this (assuming they are well built)?
   Mike H - Monday, 03/13/06 16:29:38 EST

Mike, Yes, if the forge is properly balanced (volume to burner size) and efficiently insulated, AND work of the proper scale is welded (size of a framing nail).
   - guru - Monday, 03/13/06 17:04:58 EST

   MIKE - Monday, 03/13/06 17:16:49 EST

Welcome back Jock. I have a question that you haven't gotten to yet. I have a couple pieces of 1 inch diameter rebar. Would this be suitable enough for just tongs? 'Cause I need another, bigger pair. I know that rebar is basicly junk for anything besides what it's meant for. But It's the only thing that I have enough of to make the tongs out of. If so, plese tell me the rough heat treating for them.
   Hillbillysmith - Monday, 03/13/06 18:21:21 EST

Hillbillysmith - inch rebar - I hope you have either a little giant or a couple of strikers because that's a lot of metal to move;)

I've made 3 pars of tongs out of 1/2 inch rebar. They work great. The stuff is suprisingly springy once it's been drawn out to about 5/16" for the reins.
   Stephen G - Monday, 03/13/06 18:53:34 EST

Sgt K [Matt] My Email is: amyandarthur@aol.com.....send me your mailing address and a length of 5160 is on the way.I have .25" x 1.50" I figure about 16" is what you need.Is that OK....Good Luck
   - arthur - Monday, 03/13/06 19:18:04 EST

Hillbillysmith, No need to heat treat tongs. They will lose the temper once they get hot from use. And yeah, a power hammer or striker helps but you can still do it by hand.
   - Tyler Murch - Monday, 03/13/06 19:20:57 EST

BillWilliamsmith, Don't quench the tongs at a red heat. They may have enough carbon to become brittle. Air cool after forging.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/13/06 20:16:19 EST

RE-Bar: You will need to be carefull with this. The high strength bar will harden TOO HARD if quenched hot and may fracture. For tongs this is a forge it and use it steel.

Springyness. All steel has the same springyness. What IS different is the yeild point on hardened and tempered steel. It will spring farther before yeilding. If you make a spring from mild steel that does not travel far enough to yeild then it is good enough. . . Where you want hardened and tempered springs is where you need light weight and high performance.

Forging 1" (24mm) bar is a tough job. It is one of those few places where you want to pick up a hand sledge (6 to 8 pounds - 3 to 4 kilos). Do that heavy drawing then put it away before you hurt yourself.

Study tong joints. They need to be fairly strong. But then the reins can taper rapidly. The reins should be a minimum of 1/2 the size of the joint then taper to the base size of the reins at about 5 to 6 diameters distance. After that they can be parallel or taper very gently. In a perfect world this shape is a parabolic curve starting at a tangent about 30° from the vertical axis at the rivet and then blending into the reins to where you cannot tell the variation in thickness.
   - guru - Monday, 03/13/06 20:25:34 EST

OK guys, I've been looking and looking but I haven't found ANYWHERE that sells borax, OR commercial forge welding flux. Does anyone have a direct site I can go to to order some? Thanks in advance!

   - Rob - Monday, 03/13/06 20:43:11 EST

Rob-Piehtoolco.com carries that fancy flux and you can get regular borax at the grocery store. I know Ingles has it. I'm sure Kroger and Publix do to.
   - Tyler Murch - Monday, 03/13/06 21:07:56 EST


What country are you in? In the US 1 out of three grocery stores sell it (Food Lion is one). It will be found next to the bleach. Less stores are carrying it but it can be found in most places.

The Kaynes (BlacksmithsDepot.com), Centaur Forge (centaurforge.com) and Pieh Tool (piehtoolco.com) all sell welding flux and are all advertisers listed on our drop down menu.

Outside North America borax is not commonly used as it is here for laundry and you must go to a chemical supply or ceramics supplier to find it. I recently hauled 15 pounds of Borax to friends in Costa Rica. . . It contributed to making my luggage overweight and ended up being VERY expensive borax.
   - guru - Monday, 03/13/06 21:09:24 EST

Borax, well not every country had mules, picturesque wagons, Death Valley, and Ronald Reagan to sell it. Grin!
   Ellen - Monday, 03/13/06 21:17:28 EST

Rob: Ask the store stocker for 20 Mule Team Borax. As noted, it should be in the laundry section. While it can be used straight out of the box, some folks like to dehydrate it. Just put it in a metal bowl in the oven at say 200-250 degrees until it forms a hard cake. Pound back to a powder and cook it again. When it stops caking it is dehydrated. However, store in an airtight container or it will absorbe moisture again.

One old forge welding formula I have used is three parts borax, two parts baking soda and one part common table salt. Mix and dehydrate as above.

If you absolutely cannot find it locally, and are willing to pay price and postage, I can purchase and ship some to you.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/13/06 21:43:47 EST

I'm thinking about building a vent hood for my forge from plywood. with metal stovepipe going through the roof. can any one give me an approximation of the distance above the fire pit for position? Wood burns at 454 degrees F.
   rockingwj - Monday, 03/13/06 22:03:09 EST

George M :There are a lot of pictures of forges, some historic at WWW.beautifuliron.com This is by no means a complete history but lots of pictures just a few key strokes away.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/13/06 23:32:56 EST


Look at the plans for the side draft forge hood, built out of metal. They work terrifically well if you use a 10" or bigger stack, and they won't burn up or fill your shop with smoke. Forget plywood, it will burn, sooner or later. Why bait Fate?
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/14/06 00:12:29 EST

Ken Scharabok; Speaking of stake tools, I just scored a heavy "Ladish" brand 6" schedule 160 weld-on pipe cap from the salvage pile at work. A freebie. This thing BEGS to be a mushroom stake. It takes very little effort with a flap disc to polish the crowned surface to a nearly mirror finish. I'm trying to decide what kind of post to weld to the underside, but leaning heavily toward a 2" threaded heavy wall pipe coupling, so I can put any length of pipe in it to vary the height to suit the job. Also considering a hardy hole mount, or one of the holes in the swage block. Free is good.
   3dogs - Tuesday, 03/14/06 03:32:03 EST

3dogs: Ah, to see things not for they are but what they can be.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/14/06 06:23:08 EST

Mike, a guy in our group used a hand-held propane torch for heat in his bean can forge. You could use a plumer's torch which comes with a line rated for propane and you could use a larger cylinder. Make sure you have every thing mounted solidly and don't stick the burner all the way through the kaowool- be safe.
   Ron Childers - Tuesday, 03/14/06 08:30:16 EST

Thanks for the suggestion Ron. I built one last night, but couldn't get the heat above a medium orange. I experimented with forge volume, length, burner placement etc. I was a little disappointed, but had little invested in the venture. I think I'm finally going to have to break down and build a coal forge (as opposed to my propane forge). I've been avoiding it because of the lack of coal resources in Kansas. I may just have to plan a road trip and buy half a ton or so. Anyway, rambling :) thanks for the suggestion.
   MIKE - Tuesday, 03/14/06 11:28:52 EST

In propane forges a "slippery" orange is welding heat. You might want to give it a try at welding. Compared to a coal fire the metal doesn't "look" hot enough to weld, but is. Just my experience. YMMV.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 03/14/06 11:48:30 EST

Bean Can Forges: Mike see our Micro Forge article.

These little forges must be insulated with very high efficiency refractory. The one brick forges use insulating brick that is as light as styrofoam and the bean-can forges use kaowool coated with ITC-100. To achieve the maximum temperature the front may need to be closed off to hold the heat in.

There is an economic problem building these little forges due to the minimum amount of material required to make one. Unless you have a source of left over materials you are looking at $45 materials plus about $10 shipping (1 foot kaowool and 1 can ITC-100). This is enough material to build 8 to 10 micro forges not including the torches. Insulation bricks are more economical but can rarely be purchased one at a time and are not inexpensive.

Like larger forges it also takes some time for the forge to warm up. Several minutes minimum. Then the forge lining may still not get as hot as the contents. It you take a small steel wire such as a paper clip and can get it to a white heat in your propane flame then the forge will achieve that temperature IF properly built.

As to the heat from a bottle mount propane torch, I used one to cure the refractory in a crucible forge with about a half cubic foot volume. The torch ran 4 hours before running out of fuel. At that time the exterior shell of the forge was too hot to touch and the lining was well over the temperature required to drive out all the moisture.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/14/06 12:03:57 EST

3Dogs: I like to find a gear or something that will fit up inside such hollow objects and weld them in place to give the head more mass; just like anvils, the more mass the better.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/14/06 12:42:33 EST

Bean can forge: I use a TS8000 model Bernz-O unit with MAPP gas. WAAAAAAAY better than the 1200 or even 4000 propane models. I have acheived a nice yellow with 1/2" 316L rod within 2 minutes. I used one lining of Kaowool and about 3 coats of thinned out ITC-100. I did have a problem with flame shooting out of the front, so I redisigned it with the burner closer to the front at the bottom right corner of the can, but facing towards the back at a diagonal angle. This causes the flame to swirl around inside. I strapped a loose piece of Kaowool to the front to close off the main opening, I use a welders gloved hand or a tongs to operate the "wool-door". I have forge welded thin pieces of metal together with this set up.

Guru, please check out the TS-8000 MAPP model, it makes a WORLD of difference when it comes to these little forges.

Check out mine:

   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 03/14/06 12:51:24 EST

I am building a Blacksmith shop for the Jackson county Green Energy Park, NC. The forges will be fueled by methane from an old landfill and I need to know approx. how many BTU's an hour a natural gas forge requires.
   Matthew Shirey - Tuesday, 03/14/06 12:55:46 EST

Matthew, it depends on the size of the forge. An average sized small blacksmiths forge runs 50,000 BTU/hr. Some of the small farriers' forges run 30,000 BTU/hr but large shop forges run well over 100,000 BTU/hr.

Note that the Micro forges discussed above are for miniature work (doll house furniture size).
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/14/06 13:19:08 EST

Thanks for the advice on the small forges everyone. Much appreciated. Have a great day.
   Mike H - Tuesday, 03/14/06 13:30:26 EST

rockingwj- If you want a quick, easy to make hood for your forge- use an old metal wheel barrow as the hood- the ones scrapped usually are scrapped because they have a hole in the bottom- you were going to cut a hole anyway-also it has a nice rolled edge around the outside
   - ptpiddler - Tuesday, 03/14/06 13:38:45 EST

Mike: Don't give up on propane forges. For example, I make them out of 30-lb Freon bottles. While I don't sell them as forge welding capable, a couple of my buyers have done so by doubling the insulation (2" vs 1") and coating the inside with ITC. This is with a clay fireplace brick as the base. One buyer sent me an e-mail he regularly does up Damascus-pattern billets in his at five pounds of pressure on his gauge.

For an empty Freon bottle just ask your local H&AC service company. They may be glad to give you one. A local H&A/C one tosses out empties in my yard when they accumulate in the service truck.

Ceramic blanket and ITC are avaiable through the Anvilfire STORE (click on the NAVIGATE anvilfire box in the upper right and then scroll down to STORE. I (Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools) sell both 2,300 and 2,600 degree ceramic firebrick by the brick.
   Ken Scharabok - Tuesday, 03/14/06 14:30:09 EST

Matthew Shirey-- we covered this a while back, w/in last couple of months. It's a difficult and costly task to harness enough methane under pressure, and extremely dangerous.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 03/14/06 16:28:58 EST

I am looking for any information about the history of metalworking. Thank you.
   Thea - Tuesday, 03/14/06 16:30:36 EST

Thea, this is quite simply a huge question, far too big to answer here. It begins before the birth of Christ (quite some time before) and is still being written today as new alloys and production techniques are pioneered.
Not to sound dismissive at all but you'd really have to visit a library. Look for articles or books concerning 'The Bronze Age' and then move forward in time from there. It really is a HUGE but fascinating topic and pretty much charts the progress of modern man from hunter gatherer to space farer.
   Ian Lowe - Tuesday, 03/14/06 17:10:19 EST

I'm sorry Ken, I should have been more specific. I've built a couple full size (whatever that means) forges that all worked well for forge welding. I guess I'm just dreaming of a small, smokin hot forge that gives a shorter more intense heat. Basically, a gas forge that mimics the properties of a coal forge. Is that possible? Thanks for you input Ken.
   Mike H - Tuesday, 03/14/06 17:44:07 EST

Thea, Shire Publications has a book on Egyptial metalworking, there are a number of greek pottery pieces showing classical greek metalworking. "The Mastery and Uses of Fire in Antiquity" discusses how furnaces were built and used for metalworking in antiquity. There is anthropological and archeological info on the chalcolithic and bronze ages.

To jump way ahead Theophilys in Divers Arts gives a middle ages how to on a lot of metalworking and then Agricola's " De Re Metallica" for a renaissance take on refining of metals. "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" for the metallurgy of medieval/renaissance armour, "Sources for thye History of the Science of Steel" deals with how steel was investigated starting in the 1500's; "Mechanics Exercises", Moxon for a 17th century view on blacksmithing and Diderot's Encyclopedia for an 18th century view on metalworking and "Practical Blacksmithing" for a 19th century view and look in the book list for a 20th century view...

Do you have a more specific question than the Iceman till today?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/14/06 18:39:37 EST

Mike: There are gas forges that use a refractory media that is heated and the metal put in it---they have been mentioned a lot of times here. As I remember the take was that they were expensive and high upkeep.

As far as your "wish": sounds like you are describing an oxyacetylene torch...

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/14/06 18:42:50 EST

I've seen borax sold for meat tenderizer at Asian food stores, so that might be an option if you're desperate. Probably cheaper per ounce to take Ken up on his offer, though.
   Mike B - Tuesday, 03/14/06 19:04:26 EST

Thomas: Forging with an oxyacetylene torch is an expensive proposition.
   Mike H - Tuesday, 03/14/06 19:17:44 EST

History of Blacksmithing: From a post the first of this month.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/14/06 19:24:01 EST

Matthew Shirey-- Dept. of Deja Vu-- You posted the same query back in beginning of January and I wrote: "Matthew Shirey-- The New Alchemy Institute, for which see google, published in 1973 a booklet giving a detailed run-down on getting methane out of organic wastes and using it to run a diesel engine, a 6-brake rototiller, etc. The title is 'Methane Digesters for Fuel Gas and Fertilzer with complete instructions for two working models.' There is a big catch to using methane for fuel: according to the booklet, mathane yields just 896 to 1069 btu per cubic foot as compared to 2,200 to 2,600 btu per cubic foot for propane. And 'it takes nearly 5,000 PSI to liquefy it for easy storage... So a great deal of storage is required of methane for a given amount of work.'" And, "p.s. re: the New Alchemy Institute's methane booklet. Much as I am aware of the Institute's revered reputation amongst the holistic Birkenstock set and the yurt-dwelling back to the landers, I am vastly unimpressed by the safety features (none to speak of that I can see, no flashback arrestors, etc.) on the models in their booklet. As witnessed by those poor unfortunate miners in West Virginia, methane (coal gas) is not to be trifled with. It might be low in BTUs, but it can make you become real fatal real quick if a lot of it gets ignited in a confined area-- such as the storage tank or the digester. I think this notion of heating forges with it belongs with the home acetylene generator. Lots of farmers and shops had one once upon a time. No more. Too dangerous." My opinion remains the same, alas. The game just doesn't seem worth the candle.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 03/14/06 19:26:04 EST

Flame front velocity of methane, (natural gas) is 608 feet per second. Look up the speed of sound for a comparison. . .

For storage large tanks with a hydraulic seal are used. The weight of the tank raised by gas produces the storage pressure. In simple systems a water seal is used but oil is also used. Look around any large city that has natural gas and you will find one or more of these huge tanks which rise and fall with the gas demand.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/14/06 19:45:36 EST

My previous employer, Lucent< had their Columbus OH plant's boilers plumbed to a local retired landfill. The quality of the "natural gas" was lower than that provided by the local utility but they said they saved about US$50,000 a year on energy costs.

To be most impressive I would suggest running commercially built equipment from it---like the Johnson gas forges. Gives folks the idea that it's an industrial resource rather than an oddity suitable only for displays and tinkerers.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/14/06 19:59:30 EST

Will holding steel at a tempering temperature for longer than required be detrimental to the steel?
   Bob G - Tuesday, 03/14/06 20:56:35 EST

Bob, No. A good soak at tempering temperature helps assure a through temper. Although smiths often temper for only a moment by running the temper an hour a temperature is oftgen recommended. Double tempering (same temperature twice) is also better, especially if running the colors.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/14/06 23:15:08 EST

Springiness of Steels:

I read earlier in this forum that all steels have the same springiness, and since have been pondering that comment. I do not doubt it's accuracy, but rather am curious how different compositions of steel (O1, AS36, 1095, 5160, and Alloys of greater complexity) can maintain that similarity. I do presuppose that the comparison includes that all the same springiness regards annealed steels.

Does anyone have a layperson explaination of why steels are all the same springiness?
   - ccharper - Wednesday, 03/15/06 01:03:56 EST


Sorry I did not get back to you sooner on folding knife parts. That is an area about which I know little. Sometimes Burnt Forge comes in on this forum and Hammer-in. He's done that kind of work.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/15/06 09:11:55 EST

Springs - modulus of elasticity:

ccharper, What you are asking is to explain the nature of life in simple terms. It has to do with the atomic structure of iron and I do not know how to explain it.

The property is called the modulus of elasticity or Young's modulas and defined as "The ratio of stress (nominal) to corresponding strain below the proportional limit of a material." It is represented by different variables but Z is the most common.

The value for all high quality steels other than stainless is given as 30 million pounds per square inch. This includes SAE 960 and 52100 up to SAE 9640. Structural steel (because of its variability and use) is given as 29 million PSI and wrought iron at 28 million PSI.

Stainless steels are slightly less at 28 to 29 million PSI.

The modulus of elasticity is used to calculate deflection and stress strain. The small difference between quality steel and structural steel makes little differennce and is probably a result of the viewpoint of the metalurgist doing the calculation. When a property works for you the tendancy is to round it down for safety. When a property works against you the tendancy is to round up for the same reason. Over the years this has resulted in great differences in things like the coefficint of friction where is used in brakes and clutches on one hand but is unwanted in bearings. The same for shear strength. If you need a part not to fail you want to ues a low number but if you are cutting that same material in a shear you use a high number to be sure the cut succeeds. Thus in press work we use a rule of thumb for mild steel of 30 tons (60,000 PSI) for where in actuality the strength of the material is only 40,000 to 50,000 PSI. Many modern references are correcting these differences but many others are not. It is one of those things that the experianced engineer knows that newbies out of school have yet to learn. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 09:39:33 EST

Matthew : Methane - the issue with biomethane is primarily a purity issue. You do not have 100% methane, but methane, nitrogen, decomposition products with mixtures of hydrogen and sulfur, such as hydrogen sulfide (wrotten egg odor) etc. in it. If you can purify to approximately 100 % methane, you have a great fuel that would replace natural gas in most appliances. Natural gas is primarily methane with small percetages of other hydrocarbon gases such as ethane, propane, etc.

Note, the more impurities you have in your gas feedstock, the lower flame temperature you'll have, which will affect how your forge operates - you've got to heat the nitrogen in your fuel as well that in the air. As to how many BTU's required for a forge - depends in a large part how big your forge is. The BTU's/hr for a bean can size forge are very different from those for a forge designed to heat 4" round barstock.
   - Gavainh - Wednesday, 03/15/06 13:44:27 EST

Hi Nippulini,
You can feel free to ask me anything you desire about knives. I jump in here from time to time as Frank mentions. I am usually in the hammer in. I just posted about knives in there.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 03/15/06 14:31:32 EST

I was looking at larry zoeller's atmospheric gas forge and was wondering what the open side of that three way 1" 1/4x 1 1/4"x 3/4 tee was for. I am assuming air intake? but if so, how far must the gas line coming from the capped and tapped end, protrude into the tee?
   nathan maki - Wednesday, 03/15/06 15:19:52 EST

   robert - Wednesday, 03/15/06 15:20:26 EST

Wet behind the ears - I want to purchase an anvil for general purpose work on a hobby farm. I live in Minnesota and I'd like to purchase it locally in the Twin Cities area. I know absolutely nothing about anvils other than it needs to be heavy and of good to medium quality. I've seen web sites where anvils are listed as single & double bick. What does that mean ? Can you give me some pointers in buying a general pupose anvil and what would I pay ?
   Mike Anderson - Wednesday, 03/15/06 15:48:06 EST

Mike Anderson:

First of all contact the Upper Mid-West Blacksmith Ass'n to see if they can provide a referral to an local anvil seller to you. Click on the NAVIGATE anvilfire link in upper right and then scroll down to ABANA-Chapter.com link towards the bottom.

If you just want a starter anvil, Harbor Freight retail outlets carry a 110 pound one of dubious quality, but better than the shop floor. Price I have heard recently is still $89.95 picked up.

The same anvil is sold on eBay for 1.5 to two times the H-F price. However, an eBay seller is now listing some which are made in Mexico for about the same price (roughly $1.00 per pound) and they seem of pretty good quality. Have a general London-pattern shape, 1" hardy hole and usually a 1/2" pritchel hole. He sells them in 55, 110 and 165 pound weights. Based on a look at the photograph only, I would put them heads and shoulders above the Russian imports even if the metal quality is similar.

Try placing a classified advertisement in local small town newspapers to the general effect: WANTED: Blacksmithing anvil and tools. XXX-XXXX. If you find one that way, come back with a report on brand (if can be determined) and condition and we can likely give you a ballpark figure on value.

Ask around. Get in the habit of asking just about everyone you talk to if they know of an anvil which may be for sale. Perhaps the gas station attendant remembers their grandmother still has her husband's anvil out in the shed and it might be for sale.

Place wanted notices on public bulletin boards. Perhaps cut an anvil shape out of a 3" x 5" card and then your contact information on it.

On size, if available I would recommend one in the 140-160 pound range.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/15/06 16:10:27 EST

Forges: Robert, What kind of forge? Coal, oil, gas?

We have plans on our plans page for a "brake drum forge" which is a type of easy to build beginers forge. This is a good place to start and gives you something to test coal with. If you do not have a good source of coal or charcoal or are not willing to pay what it costs to have is shipped then a cheap forge is a way to find out if you want to invest in a bigger forge.

Air sources for solid fuel forges vary from little electric blowers (the most convienient) to big picturesque (and expensive) double chambered bellows or antique hand crank blowers.

Industry uses oil forges but few DIY types build their own. Propane forges are much more common and propane is almost universally available world wide.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 16:44:17 EST

Well, everywhere I've gone, they don't sell Borax, so I'll have to look more I guess. Ken, How much would you charge? If I can't find any Borax or commercial Flux, I'll consider it.

   - Rob - Wednesday, 03/15/06 16:48:36 EST

Rob, are you asking for "20 Mule Team Borax"? Winn-Dixie, IGA and Publix all have it here in Florida. Where are you?
   Ron Childers - Wednesday, 03/15/06 17:02:15 EST

Minnesota, especially in the rural areas used to be a hotbed of quality old anvils. Should still be some left. Lots of farms and horses there, and that condition breeds anvils. The keep asking and put up notices is good advice.

Have you taken a look at Euroanvils, an advertiser on this site? Folks here speak highly of their quality, and if you want a new one that is a good way to go. Centaur and Pieh Tool Co, and Blacksmiths Depot also carry anvils.....

Sometimes you can get a new one cheaper than an old one.

Where do you live? Seems odd not to find Borax unless you are in another country than USA.
   Ellen - Wednesday, 03/15/06 17:06:44 EST

Finding Anvils: It may seem trite, but anvils are where you find them. Good used anvils are available but you must search for them. Ken's suggestion to put a classified ad in a local paper has worked for many. Expect to pay $1/pound minimum for a good used anvil. Ocassionaly folks run across them for less but dealer prices run close to new because the old anvils were well made (much better than the junk typicaly found on ebay) and are just as useful today as the day they were made. Once you obtain your first anvil others will follow.

What you want to avoid is a cast iron anvil. These are commonly called ASO's for "anvil shaped object". These are largely a waste of metal and a MUCH larger waste of money. Cast iron is roughly 1/3 the strength of steel and will actually crumble under hammer blows. Cast iron is generally considered to be inflexible (it breaks before bending).

There are many cast iron ASO's sold on ebay by unscrupulous dealers that use all the key words used to describe a first class anvil. They will claim they are steel when they are not and describe them as "professional quality" when they are far from it.

Good (real) anvils are made of hardened tool steel. This presents a hard durable work surface that resists denting from miss blows of the hammer and wear from scale. Note that the flat work face is hardened while the round horn is usualy not. On old anvils the face is often a seperate piece of hardenable steel while the horn is part of the softer body.

Try your local blacksmithing organization. Members often collect tools for resale including anvils. Do not turn your nose up at a battered old anvil that was once good quality. It will be much more useful than an ASO and will probably appreciate in price.

If all else fails, NEW good quality anvils are still manufactured.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 17:07:21 EST

More about Cast Iron: The cast iron reference chart refered to above lists standard cast irons. Many small foundries with poor quality control produce much inferior irons than the SAE irons listed. The properties of cast irons are so much different than steels that there is no direct comparison between the two.

When you compare poor quality cast iron to heat treated steel the difference is as much as 6 to 1. The common ASTM 30 cast iron has 1/3 the tensile strength of heat treated mild steel, and less than 1/4 the strength of typical anvil steel.

The important thing to know when buying a new anvil from a questionable source is that the seller has no idea what the actual material is much less the specifications. However, due to articles like this that brings up these questions, many will make up answers in liew of facts. Buying a known brand from a respectable dealer or manufacturer is the best way to avoid this situation.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 18:10:40 EST

Rob: It is available locally in a four pound box. Pretty well anywhere in the U.S. priority mail flat rate box rate will be most cost effective and it is $8.10. Don't remember what the borax itself cost. So you are looking at cost plus likely $8.10 for shipping. e-mail me directly via clicking on my name. I'm heading out of town shortly for a couple of days and expect to return on Saturday.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/15/06 18:53:42 EST

RE: Industrial Coverage Corp

I'm a longstanding ABANA member interested in some new business liability Insurance. I've noticed ICC's big 1 page advertisement in the Anvil's Ring many times. I have tried to contact Michael Romeo many times to no avail. Does anyone have this man as their agent? I;m a little concerned at the difficulty in even contacting this person, much less trying to secure a future claim, or business!

Any feedback greatly appreciated


John Madarasz

   John Madarasz - Wednesday, 03/15/06 20:00:13 EST

John Madarasz: Seems like you should be raising this issue with the ABANA board of directors. You can reach them via abana@abana.org.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/15/06 20:30:06 EST

I live in NW PA, and I heard about a sort of convention that goes on up here from a craftshow blacksmith. I think that it was at Drakes Well, but it may be somewhere else. It is actually a big convention of blacksmiths, and I think that they meet one saturday of every month, and could anyone clarify this stuff for me?
   - Eric Meyer - Wednesday, 03/15/06 20:42:32 EST

Eric, See our ABANA-Chapter.com page. There are several groups in Pennsylvania.


   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 21:00:02 EST


John try going direct (click link). These folks were at the NOMMA convention last week. Although they are supposed to be a big deal in our industry I have heard the same complaints over and over that folks could not get a response.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 21:04:30 EST

I have a post leg vise I found during a demolition job and only through research on the internet learned what it is. I read the small article you have posted about vises, but still don't quite understand the vise. Can you tell me exactly how this vise is used and the correct way to permanently mount it in my shop? Thank You!
   Paul Peterson - Wednesday, 03/15/06 22:16:56 EST

Mike - ASO's: What they can be OK for is bucking up parts that need to be hammered on [center punching for drilled holes,drive fits & ocasional streightening of bent parts] or a gluing weight. Any heavy chunk of scrap with a relatively flat surface will do the same. I inherited an OLD cast iron anvil from an uncle, I use it for the purposes above, and keep it on the floor under the workbench near the drillpress and vise. At 65# I can easily place it on a stool for use. Forging and serious work gets done on a proper 158# hard cast steel anvil mounted on a base with a 2" thick steel top with 3 legs, the base is 145#
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/15/06 22:36:43 EST

John Madarasz

Michael Romeo is a great person and very helpful. You should call the abana office. She will give you his proper contact information. He is very good at following up with folks. It sounds like you may not have a good contact number.
   - Burnt Forge - Wednesday, 03/15/06 23:11:50 EST

Leg or Post Vise: Paul, This is a semi-specialized vise for blacksmiths. At one time it was THE standard vise for all purposes but others have developed that are better for other crafts.

They are called a post or leg vise due to the rear jaw having a leg extending to the floor. At the end there is a point and a shoulder. This is designed to set into a post, stone or plate on the floor to prevent the leg from moving side to side and to support it verticaly.

The bracket at the back of the jaw is a multi-purpose part. It is used to attach the vise to a bench through three or more bolt holes in the bracket. The bracket (on late type vises) is attached to the leg and also holds the top of the leaf spring in place. Early brackets had a tennon that passed through a rectangular hole in the leg and the spring with a hole of a pin to hold it in place. Late brackets are held in place by a pair of wedges. Even later types have a U-bolt holding an angle iron bracket to the back of the leg. Most late type brackets alow for some vertical adjustment so the bench does not have to be a perfect match to the vise.

Mounting a leg vise requires either a bench the proper height for the vise OR a higher bench and a support for the leg. The leg support was often a post set deep into the ground with a cap or top plate with a hole for the leg point to pass through.

Often a heavy post is set in the floor to attach a leg vise. This allows access all around the vise. When attached to a bench the bench itself is usualy anchored to wall and floor (unless its a VERY heavy bench).

Blacksmiths vises are used for both hot and cold work. Hammering, filing, sawing. Being made of ductile steel or wrought iron with steel jaws they are very tough and can take a lot of pounding that would destroy a lesser vise.

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/15/06 23:53:06 EST


Many Thanks for the valuable feedback. I'll give your suggestions a try.

Best Regards to all...
   John Madarasz - Thursday, 03/16/06 00:15:22 EST

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