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This is an archive of posts from march 25 - 31, 2006 on the Guru's Den
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I am constructing a temporary boxing ring and want to use a solid steel or aluminum tapered post that would be wedged into a steel tube permanently anchored in concrete. The permanant steel tube in concrete would be flush with the floor. The Idea is that the steel tube would go into the concrete aprox 1 foot at a slight angle. The steel or aluminum would slide into the steel tube and be hammered into place. The boxing ring ropes would be attached to the steel or aluminum post. My questions are:

Should a Steel or Aluminum post be used? Advantages and disadvantages for each.

What degree of taper should be used? At what angle should the anchor be set into concrete.

What thickness of post should be used... How much stronger would a 2 1/2 inch post be compared to a 2 inch thick post.

Is there a resource for a schematic of this type of anchor? I am told the circus uses this type of anchor.

This may not be something you normally deal with but I am not that familiar with aluminum. I can lay a nice welding bead in steel but this fabrication project has some unanswered questions.

I origionally was going to inner thread the steel anchor tube post and then outer-thread a 3 inch tube and then just screw the tube into the threaded post anchored in the concrete. That was simple... until I wondered what would happen if the inner threads were to get stripped.... that would require some serious demolition to remove the anchor, rethread it and then re-set it in concrete.

Any suggestions on this would be helpful.

Thanks for any insight you might have on this project.

- Steve
   Steve - Saturday, 03/25/06 00:59:45 EST

I am having difficulty sandblasting carbon steel at a large project for Duke Power. My question is: has the stel making process changed in recent years;that would reguire more sand to produce a white metal blast. previously we would consume 7 to 8 lbs. per sq. ft.. now we are consuming 15 to 20 lbs. per sq.ft.any help would be appreciated.
   pete rhodes - Saturday, 03/25/06 12:04:36 EST

Sandblasting Plate: Pete, The processes have not changed but the sources of metal have changed. A very large percentage of steel is coming from China and South America.

Both US steel and Chinese steel has a very high percentage of scrap. This often makes the steel much harder than it would normally be as well as effecting the scale. Steel from Venezuela is very good but there has been an interuption in the supply.

The thickness of scale on plate varies greatly. I have seen 1/8" thick scale on 6" plate. This is not unusual for heavy plate but would be unusual for thiner plate.

Then there is the operator, gun pressure, sand quality. . .

Too many variables. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/25/06 13:23:55 EST

Boxing Ring-
It seems like solid 2 1/2" square is a bit of overkill.
I would think a thick wall square tube would work fine.
The problem with holes in concrete floors is that stuff is constantly getting into them- filling em up.
Instead, in one of my shop buildings, I inlaid 1" thick, 1 foot square steel plates flush with the finished floor. These were tied together with 1" rebar inside the concrete. In each one, I drilled and tapped 4 holes, threaded for 1" bolts. I have small pieces of allthread with a screwdriver slot screwed in most of the time, keeping gunk from filling them.
I can bolt anything I want down to the floor with this system, using any combination of holes I need. The floor is flat, and smooth, but I can bolt big heavy things down quite quickly.
I would propose this system for your boxing ring- Then you just weld your corner posts to a matching piece of steel plate, and bolt them down when you want to use it.
If the floor is already poured, hire a concrete saw to come out and cut out rectangles at each corner, and pour a new section with the steel inlaid in it.

I would skip aluminum unless you already are familiar with it- welding aluminum is expensive and fussy, even with the right equipment. Steel is easy, available, and paintable.
   - Ries - Saturday, 03/25/06 13:57:53 EST

If I was building the ring I would make the sockets sufficiently deep (an extra 6 inches or so) and then weld stops on the posts to keep them form going too deep. That way you could suck the debris out with a shopvac from time to time, and the posts wouldn't pack the debris because they wouldn't bottom out. Also, the posts would be fairly easy to lift out if you needed the space. My 2 cents.
   - Mike H - Saturday, 03/25/06 16:10:37 EST

Scale on plate: If the plate was normalized or heat treated where it was raised to incandescent temperatures, the tightness of the scale is probably a function of furnace pressure. A positive furnace pressure makes loose scale and a negative pressure makes a very adherant scale. The longer it was held at temperature, the thicker the scale. If the furnace was running high excess air, it would also increase scale thickness.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/25/06 16:32:57 EST

Guru: My mind slipped a cog when I "discovered the ficticious relationship of 1 tonne = 1 long ton. I really knew the exact conversions, but I went into a fog. I know one customer who sells coal for foreign shipment at the tonne equals long ton rate but he is losing money!
   - John Odom - Saturday, 03/25/06 19:04:02 EST

Hi I want to make a 1.5mm sheet of mild steel as pliable as possible would it be best to heat and leave to air cool or is there any softer way. regards Brian.
   - Brian - Saturday, 03/25/06 19:30:00 EST

Softening Steel: Brian, Annealing is done by heating to a low red (non-magnetic) then cooling as slow as possible. In sheet steel this is difficult as the thin metal cools quickly in air. Heating a large thin plate evenly is also tricky.

There are tricks to do this but it depends on the size of the plate. You can heat sheet while it is supported on an insulator like Kaowool and then quickly cover it with the same. You can also do the same with a large quantity of vermiculite.

Another method is to heat stock in a forge or furnace that has been previously brought up to temperature then let the furnace cool with the stock in it. If the furnace has a heavy refractory brick floor it will cool quite slowly and you should get a good anneal.

Bonfires also work well, the hot ash being a very good insulator and the fire generaly cooling VERY slow.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/25/06 20:10:39 EST

I obtained a free standing Lancaster Geared Blower # 40 today for $90 and it is in excellent condition. It operates real quiet and smoothly with very good air output. What do I need to know about this blower in order to keep it mechanically sound? It has a small hole in the top side of the gear housing, I'm supposing for oiling. Do I just oil it periodically, or is it supposed to have a maintained oil reservoir?

Also picked up a fairly heavy duty post vice in very good conditon for $75. It was a little rusty, but just surface rust only, with no pitting, and it operates real easy.

Also found a heavy duty floor model drill press with a 3/4 hp motor & 5/8th's chuck, in near new condition for $75. All it needed was a on/off switch which I did 15 minutes after I got home. (It had been wired directly and came on when it was plugged in to an outlet.)

Along with my large truck break drum forge I built, and free 160 lb. Fisher anvil I got from friend of mine, I'm getting a good start on my shop without a lot of expence.

Glenn Tate
   Glenn Tate - Saturday, 03/25/06 21:34:18 EST

Glenn, see if the hole in top is threaded. Then match that with a small bolt to keep crud out. Lot's of people like me use ATF fluid as a lubricant for the blower. It really only has a small reservoir in the bottom, so don't overfill it. There are no seals really, so over filling will leak out. Just add a bit more each day as you turn the handle, spreading the oil on the gears. Not much tho.
   Bob H - Saturday, 03/25/06 22:15:31 EST

Yes, the small hole is threaded, and now has a short bolt screwed into it. Thanks for the informationa and help.

   Glenn Tate - Saturday, 03/25/06 22:30:12 EST

Hello all, just wondering if anyone knew anything about the quality of Harbor Freights die sets? If knowing the particular one would help, here is a link

Its actually a tap and die set, but its cheaper than the die sets that they have.

   - boogerman - Saturday, 03/25/06 22:56:13 EST


MIKE has it right. Round pipe with stops and cable with turn buckles under the boards. Mat and canvas on top of the boards. make sure you have a rail to lash your canvas down tight.

We put one up and took it down, every month for five years.

We had no way of holding it in one place. The wrestlers knocked it apart one time.

There were eight wrestlers and about that many police and deputys, in the ring, going like a house afire. Blood everywhere. I was a teen-ager and it scared the dickens out of me. Spectaters were fighting all over the building. One wrestler was hurt bad. Several spectaters were hurt.

   sandpile - Saturday, 03/25/06 23:39:46 EST

Taps and Dies: Few are really good. Most sold at hardware stores are junk, even the pretty gold titanium plated ones. The cost of ONE broken tap in a part you have worked on for a couple days is worth the cost of a complet GOOD tap and die set even IF you manage to salvage the part which could take a better part of a day. The last cheapo tap I had that broke was in the ONLY place in a 500 part that the blind hole could go. . . Helping a friend on a weekend. Told him we should wait until Monday and we could get a GOOD tap. Now the power hammer anvil only has about 1/4" of usable threads to hold the die down. . . AND you must be VERY careful to use short bolts only.

I've been there TOO many times. It is far less expensive (in cash, labor and emotional well being) to toss small drill bits as soon as they are a little dull and scrap most taps after every job. They are just TOO inexpensive compared to the consequences. And though you might think that hobbiests can get away with less in this regard than a professional the amature can afford it LESS. They do not have extra material or the tools to make repairs and are more often in a one-time, one-chance only situation.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/25/06 23:45:58 EST

Hey John W, or JLW, I hate to see you drop the John W name, since you have used it so much already. People will catch on. We've had several Joe variations, for example. Too bad I don't do more work, then I would write more, and it would be more clear
   - JohnW - Saturday, 03/25/06 23:48:56 EST

What actually happens when the 1/7 rule is exceded drawing off an acetylene tank? I was looking into tip sizes for the porta torch that uses MC 10 cu/ft size cilinders, which you shouldn't draw at over 1.43 CFH [if I figured it corectly]. The little #2 tip that came with it is rated at 5 to 10 CFH. Am I missing something?
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/26/06 04:23:50 EST

Are you talking welding tip sizes or cutting tip sizes?

On welding tip sizes, my old PUROX tips are sized by the CFH and the no 2 tip uses approximately 2 CFH. I use a 250 CF tank and the biggest tip I can use is a 30.

Cutting tips are different. I don't think any useful cutting can be done with an MC tank. I use an MC tank on my jewelers Micro torch (Smith Little Torch)

Acetylene is dissolved in acetone in th porous filling of the tank. It is NOT stored as a compressed gas, because if that is done it can/will explode at any pressure above 15 psig. If you draw more than the 1/7 of the cylinder size per hour, acetone from the tank is drawn out and will damage the regulator, hoses and seals. The flame will sputter. If too much acetone is removed, the tank can explode when subgected to rough handling after use. Acetylene is a dangerous material and needs to be handled with respect.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 03/26/06 09:26:38 EST

1/7th Rule Dave, The acetylene is disolved in liquid acetone. Its release is similar to boiling a cryogenic liquid requiring the absorption of heat to maitain the pressure equilibrium. If you exceed the draw rate the liquid cools until it will no longer evaporate. On the way it cools the container and we observe condensation and frost forming on the container surface. Thus we say it has "frozen up".

To further agrevate the problem in acetylene cylinders you have the explosion prevention pumice foam fill that prevents circulation of the acetone, thus heat absorption is very slow. In propane cylinders it is common to see frozt form on them but it is rare on acetylene cylinders. Generally without warning acetylene cylinders just quit working.

For brief periods cylinders will deliver much more than the 1/7th draw rate. The 1/7th rule is such that you can continously draw gas from the cylinder until it is empty. At the draw rate you theoreticaly have 7 hours of fuel at a nominal temperature (I'd guess 70°F or 21°C).

BUT lets assume straight line relationships and do a little simple ratio math. At double the draw rate you would theoreticaly empty the cylinder in 3.5 hours. However, lack of heat absorption prevents this. How soon? I would guess that at double the draw rate your useful time will be reduced by half so 1.75 hours. At tripple the draw rate the non-adjusted time would be 2.3 hours and third that would be 46 minutes. At 4 times the draw rate you would have 26 minutes and at 5 times the draw rate it would only be 17 minutes. This is rough proportioning but it seems to reflect the reality I have experianced puting large rose buds on cylinders. They easily draw acetylene so fast that the cylinder is only good for the 4-5 minutes it takes to adjust the torch and get setup to do what you want to do.

1/7 Rule multiplier @ 70°F
Factor Full Half Qtr.
1 7 hrs. 3.5 hr. 105 min.
2 105 53 27
3 46 23 12
4 26 13 7
5 17 9 4
6 12 6 3
7 9 4 2
T = 7hr. / k²

The problem then is that the heat absorption rate is such that if you freeze up a cylinder in 1 hour it will take the balance of 6 hours to warm (under normal conditions) to where it will draw at full capacity. HOWEVER, at this point there is less liquid gas and less mass or pressure so the recommended draw rate will work but over drawing is much shorter. Divide the time by the percentage of remaining gas.

In LPG cylinders you can add a heat sink by putting the cylinder in water. This helps but the cylinder will still freeze up before the water does as there is a limit to the conduction rate. In acetylene cylinders this is much less benificial and the rules for handling the cylinders are different making it difficult to set into a heat sink and use safely.

One thing that helps a LOT is an economizer valve. When working with a small torch we often spend as much as half our time setting up, adjusting the work or getting filler rods. If the torch is sitting on the valve and fuel is not being drawn then you have several things working for you.

1) You are saving gas IE money
2) The average draw rate is reduced so the 2x is only ONE.
3) The cylinder is absorbing heat thus extending the draw rate.
4) It is generaly safer as you have put out the torch and have a safe place to put it.

Final Answer: At 3 to 5 times the recommended draw rate you would have a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes use with that tip at full flow. If used only 5 minutes at a time with equal or slightly longer rest periods (and a lunch break) you will probably get away with most of a working day without overdrawing the cylinder. Which is how long it is supposed to last. . .

Attempting empty the full cylinder in 1 hour will result in freeze up in 8 minutes. This is pretty close to what I have experianced.

Now, I am sure there is someone out there that can calculate all this using the gas rules, thermal dynamics, and the published charts. . . OR tell me my propertioning is BS. Don't tell me I am wrong just send us the finished calculations and test reports OR a good reference with overdraw charts. But I think I am pretty close.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 09:45:42 EST

NOTE: John Odom is correct about the acetone getting in the regulator. At too high a draw rate the liquid boils too energeticaly and you get acetone in your system which causes a purple flame. You also get a purple flame when draining the cylinder too low as the pressure in the cylinder is not high enough to prevent the acetone from evaporating. You see this most often with a small tip which will operate for quite a time on acetone fumes. . .

I am not sure at what rate the draw it too great. However I HAVE HAD rosebuds freeze a cylinder in about 5 minutes without seeing evidence of acetone in the flame. The solution to finish the job was to gang 3 cylinders together. This would indicate that we were drawing fuel at the rate of at least 6 to 8x. With the 3 cylinders we got the 10 minute job done without freezing up or noticable pressure drop.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 10:01:49 EST

Harbor Freight: Although I am guilty of buying tools here, I generally don't buy anything with an electric motor on it or any tool that requires proper heat treating to function.
   quenchcrack - Sunday, 03/26/06 10:37:43 EST

Draw Rates and Duty Cycles: The gas draw rate is sort of like the duty cycle on an arc welder. Most common buzz boxes have a 10 to 15% duty cycle at full capacity. This means that you are supposed to let the welder cool for 85% of an hour and run it 15% (9/51 min.). But at half the rated capacity the duty cycle goes up to 50% or more. Miller claims 100% at 90 amps on its new Thunderbolt models.

At a 50% or more duty cycle it is difficult to use all that capacity. When arc welding with small rods you spend about half your time changing rods, getting lined up, fooling with your helmet. Even with a LOT of practice it is hard to be welding more than 70% of the time.

What the duty cycle is for is running very large rods at full machine capacity and using carbon arc torches. If you run 1/8" rods and smaller it is difficult to over heat most small shop buzz boxes rated at over 200 amps (not miniatures and 120VAC models). MIG machines are a different matter and you need to keep an eye on how large and long a bead you run.

A word of warning. Most older buzz boxes and many new ones do not have a thermal overload. You can smoke the machine with no warning. It pays to know and understand the ratings and the rules they are applied under.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 10:41:37 EST

Harbor Freight Arc and Mig welders. I've known a couple of people who bought them and took them back after a few minutes use.

Electric motors and switches. Some of the Chinese motors will burn out in just a few minutes of use, and the switches, like on the angle grinders, are often good for a limited amount of use. Not so bad if you have a store locally and physically take the tool back, a killer if you are doing the mail order thing. YMMV.

In all honesty, a Lincoln arc or mig welder is well worth the small price differential. They run a long time if not abused. And you can do consistent work with them.

For commercial or heavy duty use then you have to size the equipment appropriately, and you get into an area where Miller and other manufacturers produce fine machines about which I know little.
   Ellen - Sunday, 03/26/06 11:41:54 EST

I have a small household Lincoln FCAW, not too sure of the duty cycle, but Guru is right, I spend WAY more time on setting up than I do running a bead let alone tacking here and there. I've seen the HF/Chicago Tools arc welders, and just by judging the unit by looks I wouldn't trade my Lincoln in for anything!
   - Nippulini - Sunday, 03/26/06 11:57:38 EST

I am not a blacksmith but have a friend who is. Before I talk to him I wanted to check first to see of this is possible. I have a cast iron centre stand for an old motorcycle which is a little bent and needs to be realigned. Is it possible to heat up cast iron and gentle move it into shape?

   John Chardine - Sunday, 03/26/06 12:47:54 EST

John Chardine: Are you Sure it is Cast Iron? I would guess not. If it is bent it probably is not cast, and probably can be gently bent bent back, with heat. What makes you think it is Cast Iron? If it IS cast Iron, it is probably not straighenable. most cast iron breaks befor e it bends. so called maleable cast iron will bens some.
   - John Odom - Sunday, 03/26/06 13:15:52 EST

John Chardine, I agree, Depending on the bike this should be a forged or welded part. Drop forged parts often look cast due to having parting lines but dies work similar to casting molds. As John O noted, if it is bent is is USUALY straightenable
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 13:46:55 EST

The welders I've seen are rated on the basis of 10 minute duty cycles (50% = 5 min. welding and 5 min. cooling). If you weld for 30 minutes straight, the machine may not know that you're planning to take the next 30 off (grin).
   Mike B - Sunday, 03/26/06 15:06:05 EST

hello. i have a hyd cylinder with a 2 inch ram and 5 inch bore and a 41/2inch stroke,which i plan to build my air hammer and this cyl. could you please tell me how much down pressure @ 100lbs psi will this cyl have and and do you think this will work. thank you. fred
   fred - Sunday, 03/26/06 15:40:11 EST

Hydraulic Cylinders and Air: Fred, First, this is simple math.

PI * (5"/2)² = 19.635 sq.in.

100 PSI * 19.635 = 1964 pounds force.

A 5" cylinder is big enough to run a large air hammer (200 pounds) and will consume a LOT of air. For particulars see the Alabama Forge Council web site (afc.abana-chapter.com) and the Mark Linn air hammer video. It will tell you how to calculate the air consumption.

Also note that hydraulic cylinder seals are not designed for the velocity of air hammers. I know folks that have used them but the life of the seals is questionable.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 16:04:40 EST

Boogerman, HF Taps & Dies

I bought a nice set of HF taps & Dies when I was building my first propane forge. I had completely worn out the 1/4-20 tap before finishing the second hole in some schedule 40 steel pipe. I took it back and bought a smaller set of Sears Craftsman, since that was the only decent ones available on a Sat evening, and have finished that forge and 2 others, as well as several other projects withot wearing out or breaking a single tap or die.

Stay away from HF taps & Dies, they are a total waste of money.
   FredlyFX - Sunday, 03/26/06 16:33:16 EST

More The UP force is less due to the 2 inch rod (you called ram). The area of a 2" circle is PI so

19.635 - 3.1416 = 16.5.

The UP lift is 1650 pounds. Down is 1964. Ignoring friction.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 16:33:30 EST

Thanks for the comments on the motorcycle centre stand. I assumed it was cast iron because it has a rough surface like cast iron and sharp raised parts that look like metal that squeezed out of the casting. I've posted a couple of pictures of the stand at:

I hope I'm wrong and it's not cast iron as it would make it much easier to straighten.

   - John Chardine - Sunday, 03/26/06 18:17:03 EST

What year was this anvil made? It is a Trenton, the serial number is 1412. On the other front foot there is a T.
   - Tyler Murch - Sunday, 03/26/06 18:57:00 EST

Tyler Murch: You would have a Trenton from the first year Columbus (OH) Forge and Iron started production of them under that brand name - 1898.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/26/06 19:17:50 EST

I have a Vulcan anvil, and was wondering if someone could tell me anything about it the weight specifically, the only other markings I could find on it was a 10 underneath the emblem and on the other side it had a 43, I know it normally has weight in stone, but isn't that supposed to be three numbers?

   - Boogerman - Sunday, 03/26/06 22:15:17 EST

Boogerman: Vulcan anvils were manufactured by the Illinois Iron and Bolt Co. of Carpentersville, IL. Weight was normally under the horn with the last digits usually left off. Just put it on your bathroom scale. BTW: It would have a body of cast iron with a steel plate. Vulcans were often the low-end anvil carried by national catalog companies, such as Sears, and intended more for general purpose use, such as at schools, garages, workshops, farms, etc. rather than blacksmithing, per se. They are often called 'dead' since they do not right. Have also heard them called 'city' anvils for that reason. A dead anvil and a propane forge can go a long way towards being a good neighbor.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/26/06 22:28:37 EST

Ken, I've been cutting my teeth on a 100# Vulcan, (Boogerman, it has "10" under the horn), anvil for the last 2 years and with Spring just around the corner, yard, farm and estate sales are coming up and I'm on the prowl for a bigger anvil. Mine is a "dead" anvil....the stump it sits on has more ring than the anvil itself! However, the ball bearing rebound test put's it at above 80%. Will a larger anvil with no ring and good rebound be safe to buy, or does it need the sound to show it's not damaged or repaired? Also, why is Vulcan a silent anvil?
   Thumper - Sunday, 03/26/06 23:04:08 EST

1/7 rule- Thanks for the input. The unit in question is a Victor tote torch kit. Odly enough they put a medium duty torch in these kits, not the little aircraft/jewlers size one.The #2 tip I mentioned is a welding tip,.046" hole size, for welding 1/16 to 1/8 material. The card that came with it says 5 to 10 cfh. I have used it for silver brazing refrigerant lines and other small jobs where I needed portability. It has worked fine for the minute or two it takes to complete a joint. I allso have a baby rose bud that fits this torch,5/16 head diameter [6].020" holes.[not a Victor part]I have no data for this tip, but it runs OK for the minute or less it takes to heat a stuck bolt. I forget if I ever used the cutting atachment on this rig, but that tiny oxy. cilinder surley wouldnt last long cutting.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/26/06 23:15:34 EST

Economizer valve: I just picked up a used one on Friday, but the pilot flame parts are missing. It looks like there is supposed to be a needle valve in the standpipe to regulate the flame and some sort of burner tip screwed on the outside of the standpipe, The nedle valve is no problem, it is 10-32, and easy to make. What does the rest of it look like? I saw one at the radiator shop a few years ago, but I don't remember what it looked like.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/26/06 23:31:01 EST

Dave, the pilot part is like a little gas-air torch just tall enough to be wind proof. They are made for acetylene and NG or propane (two types). You should be able to get a replacement as well as a valve part.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 23:38:48 EST

at a welding supply dealer. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 23:39:27 EST

"Dead" anvils: Some folks love em' some hate em'. They ARE quiet and that is often a selling feature. One of the last big orders of Fisher-Norris anvils went to the U.S. Army because it was better for field anvils to be quiet. They have some rebound but bigger really IS better in these type anvils. They are silent or very quiet due to the cast iron body.

A good 100 pound anvil is nothing to sneeze at and I would be careful trading to something that might not be as good. On several cast anvils the weight was cast in as multiples of 10. 5 = 50, 10 = 100, 15 = 150.

The ring test does two things. In wrought anvils if there is a failed weld the ring will be dull or have a buzz to it. Ocassionaly you will find one that as you tap over the face it rings nicely until you hit that dead spot that says "bad weld". The ring also indicates hardness. The harder steel is the higher the natural frequency. But his is also tied to the anvil weight and shape and is difficult to use as a test. The hard plates of the cast iron bodied anvils would ring if it were not for the deadening properties of the cast iron. However, if you listen closely they DO make a "dink" sound that should be faily uniform. Failed welds in these are also a problem and can also be detected by a buzz.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/26/06 23:53:37 EST

Bike part: John, That is probably cast steel or ductile iron. Either can be heated and straightened. Personaly, if that is ALL the bend there is I would leave it OR carefully straighten it in a press cold. Shapes like this ARE forged but I am not sure they would be for something as low production as a motorcycle.

If it were cast iron it would have snapped off the first or second time it was used.
   - guru - Monday, 03/27/06 00:02:06 EST

Is that bike part cast aluminum?
   - Tom H - Monday, 03/27/06 00:15:19 EST

I just acquired an old canady-otto forge and am trying to locate a replacement firebox. The opening for the firepot is 10" x 12-1/2". I have looked at the on-line catalogs for Pieh and Vulcan but, their firepots are considerably larger. Does anyone currently manufacture a drop-in replacement for one of these old forges or is it a matter of hunting around for an old used firepot?
   Stanley Rangila - Monday, 03/27/06 03:26:45 EST

Stanley Rangila: Double check with Centaur and Pieh on the holes size required for their firepots. It will be less than the overall size given due to the upper lip. For example, one with an overall size of 12" x 14" may bit into your 10" x 12" hole.


According to Richard Postman some anvils which are obviously of a particularly manufacturer aren't marked/stamped. For example on a Trenton, the logo on the side might be hammered out, but it unlikely the serial number of the front foot would be. Speculation is these were rejected during the inspection process and sold on the secondary market rather than being scrapped.

I worked for the AF at Warner-Robins (GA) depot for a couple of years. One of the items they repaired were helicoper blades. They had an internal honeycone structure with a glued-on metal surface/skin. They tested them for separation by tapping with a quarter. A good tester could outline where a piece of the skin needed to be replaced/repaired by the sound.
   Ken Scharabok - Monday, 03/27/06 07:48:26 EST

Chimney question: I am building my first smithy, and want to run a chimney through the roof. The roof will be 1x6" purlins with a steel roof. The plans *were* to use a 10" diameter round air duct inside a 20" diameter round air duct, with fiberglass insulation packed inbetween. Once through the roof I anticipate flashing the larger diameter duct to keep rain out, then adding another length of the same stuff to act as a low-loss stack (see the Guru's plans). The ducts are made from fairly heavy steel, painted inside and out, and have a tight spiral pattern - looks like they were made from a looong piece of 2" or 3" strap steel, which was bent to connect with its neigbor (imagine the clay coil bowl you made as a kid, only with strap steel on edge). Here's the question: should I proceed with confidence, should I proceed knowing that I'll have to replace the inner chimney (at least) in a couple of years due to the corrosiveness of the coal smoke, or should I give up and go to a "Plan B". If I should go with a "Plan B", any hints on how to do it cheaply? Leave the end of the building open and just let the smoke pour up and out? Thanks... -Tim
   Tim - Monday, 03/27/06 10:28:38 EST

Note: vulcans are *NOT* marked in stone weight being an american made anvil. Only english anvils used the old cwt system---gotta be on top of this or you can over pay for an anvil being sold by the pound--- 1 3 4 is a tad different in the one system than the other, ( 134 pounds for an american anvil and 200 pounds for an english anvil)

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/27/06 11:29:15 EST

Coal Stacks: Tim, Galvanized will last for 5 years or more if cuts screw and rivets are recoated with cold galvanizing paint. Non-galvanized holds up according to its thickness. Normal black stove pipe is thinner material than galvanized duct. I am not sure what you have. The quality of the paint job will be a determinining factor in your case as long as it takes the heat. If designed for industrial use the stuff might hold up as well or better than galvanized.

Note that standard penetrations and wood passage stacks are tripple wall pipe, usually stainless. A tripple wall pipe has two air spaces in which air circulates. Radiant heat from the inner pipe heats the air in the space and the middle pipe. Air on both sides of the middle pipe cools it. It in turn radiates a small amount of heat to the outside shell which is cooled inside as well as out. It is a very efficient system allowing fireplace vents to be placed in wooden "chinneys". Being made of stainless assures that there will be no holes to allow hot gases to get where they are not supposed to.

Not sure about a plan B. I would do what you have then plan B is to replace it when it needs it and make your dscision on what quailty you need and can afford then.

   - guru - Monday, 03/27/06 13:03:27 EST

Core Drilling - not strictly metalworking, but Im guessing alot of you folks have experience from gate mounting etc...,
I need to core drill some holes in the factory floor, 2" dia x 5" deep to hold down some machinery. I have always got a contractor in to do the drilling in the past, (the concrete is pretty tough, but fortunatly no re-bar in it)

Im thinking of having a go myself next time, ive got quite a decent sized 'SDS' drill & was wondering what brands of diamond core are up to the task, (some of the ebay ones look a bit shoddy to say the least)

Any advise, as ever, greatly appreciated.
   John N - Monday, 03/27/06 13:21:08 EST

Bike Stand..

A spark test would give a few clues as to the material,

It could well be drop forged, I wouldnt class a motorcycle as low production (I think the honda C90 is the biggest selling motorised vehicle of all time!)
   John N - Monday, 03/27/06 13:27:32 EST

vicopper-- The version of events in the Garden March 24, 1962 that I posted was as I heard it from people who were there at the time, and if it was incorrect, I deeply regret the error. I strive as I am sure you do for total accuracy. My reason for posting was entirely without malice and purely to make the point, which I still think is valid, that steel is a better choice to withstand the stress.
   miles undercut - Monday, 03/27/06 14:46:30 EST

Concrete Drilling Question: I need to drill some holes in concrete to anchor a flypress. My 1/2" Crafstman died last week so I need to replace it anyway. I looked at Home Depot this AM and they have a Ridgid, made in Germany, 1/2" hammer variable speed drill for $160. It also switches to non hammer mode. Is this a good drill for my needs at a fair price? Thank you.
   Ellen - Monday, 03/27/06 14:51:42 EST

Ellen, the big, heavy Milwalkee hammer drill really does the job, but is good for little else. What are the specs? Four 1/2" holes? There are hard steel, threaded screw bolts made to cut their way into a 1/2" hole with an impact wrench. Might be cheap to rent or borrow the equipment...
   - Ron Childers - Monday, 03/27/06 15:34:17 EST


I agree wholeheartedly with your point about the steel. I also understand about the other; accuracy is always tenuous when dealing with eyewitnesses. If I haven't learned anything else in thirty years of law enforcement, I have learned that physical evidence is better than eyewitness evidence. Been bitten a couple of times...
   vicopper - Monday, 03/27/06 15:45:11 EST

John N,

If you're patient enough, you can probably do the job with a cheapo hand drill. But if you want to really get down to business, you'll want a sizeable drill motor to handle that large diameter bit. Most of the SDS drills I've seen weren't rated for anything over 1-1/2". The bigger capacity dirlls usually have spline shanks. They're also available at the local rental emporium for 50-6- bucks a day, bit included. Good core bits are not cheap, so I'd rent if I was doing it.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/27/06 15:49:12 EST

Well, I was hoping to add a 1/2" drill to my shop that would do both. The concrete drilling is not a real common occurance, but it does happen, and a 1/2" electric drill is a handy thing to have as you well know. Thanks! I do have an air impact wrench but it is limited to 100' from my compressor....works fine for this one job, just thinking about the future since I have to replace the dead drill anyway.

Another question: I have an air die grinder. Where is a good place to order 1/4" shanked bits for it? Home Depot no longer carries them due to ......you guessed it.....lawsuits. Thanks!
   Ellen - Monday, 03/27/06 16:21:17 EST

J.D.Hammer- I recently aquired a J.D. Foot and Power Hammer Combined. There's a drawing of it on page 206 of 'Pounding out the Profits'.The bowspring and toggle linkage moves out of the way, and it becomes a treadle hammer. The hook and spring linkages are all missing. If anyone has one of these, or a picture, it would save me some reverse engineering time.
Thanks, Mike
   mike-hr - Monday, 03/27/06 16:28:00 EST

Ellen, most welding supply stores carry a nice selection of carbide bits.
   Mani De Mers - Monday, 03/27/06 18:31:25 EST

Ellen: I have a Millwaukee 1/2 magnum hole shooter which has been a fine general purpose tool and has lasted many years and done a lot of heavy duty work. It has no percussion, of course. I seldom drill holes in high-strength concrete. I have used it for MANY holes in masonry and a dozen or so in high-strength concrete floors. It has done well. There have been a few times I needed to use a star drill and 4 lb hammer to get past a tough place in the floor. A hammer drill would be better, but what I have has worked well.
   - John Odom - Monday, 03/27/06 18:59:29 EST

Ellen; I met you at Pieh Tool flypress demo. I have a Bosch SDS hammmer drill and bits if you still need to drill some holes. It is located in Tempe at the Phoenix Rock Gym. Call me at 602 509-1543. Dief
   dief - Monday, 03/27/06 19:09:10 EST

Hagemeyer has a brand that I don't recall at this time that had a catalog of perhaps 50 pages of solid carbide burrs of every description. Give Mike at 502-961-5930 and he can mail you a catalog. They are a joy to buy from.
   - ptree - Monday, 03/27/06 19:09:49 EST

Ellen-- A star drill and a hammer, with a rubber squeeze bulb to blow out the dust as you go, will make plenty deep-enough 1/2-inch holes in concrete readily. MSC has die grinder bits galore.
   miles undercut - Monday, 03/27/06 19:27:23 EST

Core Drilling-
This is best left to pros- It takes a water cooled, thousand dollar plus rig (often closer to 2 or 3 thousand) to run a 3" core drill 6" deep.
I always hire it out- usually runs around $50/ hole, and they are done right, easy to set your metal into.
The individual diamond bits can easily run $100 to $300 each, and if you break one, you have to buy another- but if the pro breaks one, its still $50/ hole.
You need to include things like this in your bid from the get-go, and pass the cost on to your customer.
   - Ries - Monday, 03/27/06 20:27:43 EST

Mani, Ptree, Ron, John and Miles, Thanks for the information. Much appreciated and filed and/or bookmarked for reference.

Dief, wonderful offer, if I don't get the holes in in a few days I'll definitely take you up on your offer with gratitude......you're only about 30 miles from me...nice gym, too, been in it.
   Ellen - Monday, 03/27/06 21:33:18 EST

John N : Ries and Vicopper both make valid points. If You are going to try it Your self a carbide core drill works in a rotohammer, but a diamond doesn't hammer. Both are available, the diamond rigs look like a drilpress and clamp or vacuum down to the floor and use coolant. 2" hammerdrills are big & nasty. I have one that belonged to My Dad's boss. He gave it to us when it died and now rents.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/27/06 22:59:13 EST

Ellen: a 1/2" hammerdrill is usually pretty bulkey for general use. I agree no shop should be without a 1/2" drill, and because You work in metal be sure to get a tripple reduction model. Speed should be in the 450 to 600 rpm range, so You can actually drill a 1/2" hole in steel.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/27/06 23:05:21 EST

Drills and Ratings:

I have three Milwaukee drills. The one I call a 3/8 (or was called that when I bought it) is now called a 1/2" (no. 0244-1 0-600 RPM). It has a Jacobs chuck that accepts 1/2" shank bits. I've drilled up to 7/16" hole in sheet metal (for KO punches) but only 3/8" in solid steel. Bigger bits require too much pressure too long to use by hand. I liked this drill so much I bought each of my children one for Christmas many years ago.

My big "D" handle drill (I think no. 1101-1) will break your arm if it snags in a hole. It is rated a HD 1/2". 1/2" in WHAT? Unless you ride the thing you cannot get enough pressure to drill that big in steel for any depth. It has enough torque for 3/4" bits. In wood it will easily auger 3" holes. . . You have to practice letting go of this machine QUICK. I have not used it in years. The smaller drill is all that can be used by hand.

I have a much heavier B&D hammer drill that they have not made in many years. It weighs about 25 pounds and makes quick work of concrete. It has a hole for a pipe extension handle that I would not dare put in. Unless you used about a 4 foot pipe you would be setting yourself up for a broken leg or ankle if the thing hung. . . I suspect at the speed and torque it would be rated a 1" drill. $75 at the flea market and it came with a case and a bunch of bits. Much lighter high speed hammer drills do the same job today. However the D&D is heavy enough that when drilling DOWN you don't need to push. . .

The most valuable drilling machine I have is a magnetic based drill press. It has one of those big 2 speed gear box Milwaukee drill motors that will easily push a 1" drill bit in steel. The magnet is just barely strong enough for that rating. That is why most systems have gone to the core drills that require less pressure.

They make these machines with smaller drill motors and no matter what the size they are a wonderfull tool. When you hand drill a hole to be tapped you are just about garanteed to break a tap because of the crooked (often curved) hole. Using a mag based drill you can drill almost anywhere and get nice straight drill press quality holes. If you are going to invest money in portable drilling tools this is the way to go. These start at over $1,000 but are worth 100 times what a hand drill is worth in usefullness. Once you have one you will never go back. . . Once in a rare while you will find one on the used market.

I too would hire someone to do the big core drilling jobs. As much as I like tools I am not crazy.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/28/06 01:30:56 EST

Hand drills and holes in steel: Sometimes You just have to do it. It helps a lot if You can get a big C clamp on the work and use a lever to apply pressure to the drill. If You can arange clamps or other temporary stops to take the torque of the drill, so much the better. In spite of having several electric Mag driills and large and small hydraulic Mag drills at the plant, sometimes We still had to resort to the methods I mentioned. My Mag drill is a 375 RPM Black&Decker, I WISH I had the 2 speed unit. I have used one like Guru mentioned with the ajustable base, a wonderfull tool, but really heavy. The Milwalkee BIG rotary hammer I have is clutched on the rotary drive, otherwise it would be hard to handle.I have a 2" carbide core drill for it that has seen a lot of use and still works, however If we didn't get it for free we would not have it. My Black&Decker/Dewalt "Timberwolf" RT. angle drill is also clutched in low gear for safety. The other 10 amp heavy duty drills I have are direct drive and deserve respect, it is near impossible to stall them if holding by hand, pipe included, but the drillbits snap off pretty easaily. These heavy duty drills are not variable speed, they are full power or nothing, makes it even scarey at times.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/28/06 03:27:29 EST

Drilling concrete; I might just get the pros back in, though its usually equivalent of $200 'call out' min. I fancied having a go more for the convinence of not waiting on a rush job!

Drilling 1 1/4 with a carbide tipped SDS type hammer bit (into the same concrete floor)has grabbed a couple of times and nearly caused some very nasty accidents. would a 2" core drill be more likley to grab?

Ive got 3 magnietic base drills for steel (including a 'slugger' core drill, which is fantastic - about 1/2 the feed pressure of the other two which is great when your 20' up, with the drill inverted :)

so, any brands of (concrete) core drill best? - I might still buy one and give it a go, but deffinatly giving it some more thought....
   John N - Tuesday, 03/28/06 06:59:41 EST

Hilti is my favourite for anything to do with drilling concrete. Open the wallet wide, its expensive... Lesser known , Also they make a limited selection of regular drills grinders etc. All excellent stuff.
One thing to note, I seen lately alot of smaller (2"-ish and less)coredrilled holes are done without the complete drilling rig. The diamondcore bit is run with a hand portable drillmotor(its special for this task, not a regular drillmotor. I should look for more info in my Hilti catalogue,,)and the usual gardenhose fitting to washout and cooling.
You can rent the machine also, They will measure before and after, the corebit length with a micrometer and charge for its wearing, Last time it was 15 dollars per .001"
Unless its done ALOT, I cant see the expense justified of owning the stuff.
Even at the big papermill where I worked as a millwright, About 3-4 times per month they hired a conractor for our drilling cores vs buying our own rig.
   - Sven - Tuesday, 03/28/06 07:58:35 EST

John N,

Yes, a 2" core drill will hang up in a hole. That extra diameter makes it have just that much more leverage when it does, too. I've drilled holes in concrete with them,and you need a helper; it simply is not safe to try to do it single-handedly.

I've drilled a goodly number of 2" holes through two foot thick masonry walls down here in the islands, but these are mostly NOT modern concrete walls. They are old lime mortar and rubble walls wherein you might find anything from old coral to sandstone marl to granite as the "stones" and the matrix may be anything from lime and molasses mortar to Portland cement, depending on when it was last repaired. It can be an adventure to drill a 2" diameter hole through one of those walls.

For those holes, I make my own carbide-tipped "core drills" by notching the end of a piece of pipe and brazing in carbide tips taken form scrapped framing saw blades. A 7/16" hex shaft arbor hole saw is welded to the pipe and it is run in a haevy duty 1/2" low-rpm drill motor. It takes plenty of patience and a helper.

The drill motor has sufficient torque than I use three foot side handles. The helper and I each hold one handle and push it in. When (note I did not say "if"), it hangs up, the two of us can stall it long enough to shut down safely. Single-handed, I would have a broken arm or worse.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/28/06 08:46:12 EST

You can buy a relatively inexpensive 15 amp footswitch to use with a portable drill motor or a drill press if you need to be able to turn it off or on hands free. Linemaster makes them with an eight foot cord you plug into an outlet and then you plug your tool into the back of that plug. McMaster part no. 7614K32 at $44.59 probably cheaper elswhere.
   SGensh - Tuesday, 03/28/06 10:01:17 EST

Wife and I were discussing this the other day, her from a horse lovers view, and I from a rabid metalmongers view. We wondered, when did man first start shoeing horses?
   Blade - Tuesday, 03/28/06 10:23:28 EST

My Wilkinson anvil has no pritchel. It's an old anvil a hundred pounds I use it every day. Would it be unadviseable to put a pritchel hole in the heel? If not, how should I go about doing it? Anneal, punch and drift or simply drill a hole?
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 03/28/06 10:28:31 EST

TGN, Lack of a pritichel hole dates your old Wilkinson as pre 1840 or so. An antique. Don't modify it!
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/28/06 10:31:51 EST

Heavy Drill Safety: I'm glad I am not the only one to admit being scared of injury when an electric drill hangs. As an adult I have had few problems but way back in the Soap Box Dearby days (about 1960) when I weighed 65 pounds I hung a 1" spade bit about 8" deep in solid wood. It picked me up and spun me around for a couple turns before the cord jerked loose. . . Dad always wondered how the spindle got bent on his HD craftsman drill. .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/28/06 10:40:33 EST

Early horseshoes.

The history is fuzzy, because of myths and incomplete archeological evidence. Doug Butler in his 1st edition, "Principles of Horseshoeing", says that perhaps the first shoes were of woven grasses or leather, and strapped on, as in the early days of the Egyptians and Persians. In the 12th century, Genghis Khan's armies were said to have applied rawhide "boots", the rawhide shrinking on after being applied wet. Horseshoes with nails was probably not in "wide use" until around 1000 AD.
In Europe, in the 13th and 14 centuries, guilds of blacksmithg and farriery were formed, and wrought iron hand-turned horseshoes and forged nails were becoming more commonplace.

The question always arises, "Why shoe horses at all?" One of the best explanations I've heard is, "...to keep the feet from wearing out faster than nature supplies growth."
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/28/06 11:38:27 EST

I recently discovered in the back of our barn. My late husband's forge. I need info on how to identify it (make,model etc).Also value. I have someone who is intrested in it. Thanks for any and all help.
   JJ - Tuesday, 03/28/06 11:45:47 EST


You're much better off to make a bolster plate outr of some scrap 3/4" or 1" plate. Drill a series of holes in it from about 1/4" to 3/4" by 16ths, and you'll have a really handy bolster to use for punching/drifting a wide range of hole sizes. Weld a couple of "ears" hanging down from the plate to keep it centered on the anvil plate. Be sure you drill the holes so they can be lined up over the hardy hole in the anvil for clearance. Also, if you make one of the alignment ears from something heavy like 3/8" thick stock and weld it solidly, you can clamp the bolster plate in your leg vise if you want to. A bolster plate is way handier than a single pritchel hole in an anvil.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/28/06 12:40:53 EST

Dangerous drills:

As I may have said, I own an old Milwaukee 3/8" hammer drill that is quite powerful for its size. I lent it to a fellow sign maker years ago, with the warning that he must use the side handle and two (2) hands. He didn't heed the warning and used it one-handed. He was doing all his work left-handed for the next eight weeks while his broken arm healed. "Accidents" are usually the inevitable result of unsafe practices.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/28/06 12:43:58 EST

Don't have a leg vice (yet), but I have made something similar to what you described for my machinist vice. I took two pieces of 1" angle iron, squared them against eachother like bookends and welded the sides. Then I drilled holes at the joint on top from 1/8" to 3/8", cut the side welds and use the pieces as "collars" that fit in the jaws of the vice. I use these as a nail heading tool for my body jewelry nails. The reason I want a pritchel is because the hardy is too big for certain projects, causes the metal to buckle down into the hardy when all I want is a straight hole.

I just took some pics of my fireplace chimney, spring cleaning and all. I noticed that there are two pieces of iron running from the back to the front of the interior of the bottom chimney. What stuck me as odd is that they are not plain bar. One of them has been twisted a few times on on end and the other looks like a curved woodcarving gouge. The house is over 200 years old, so did the mason just grab whatever iron was laying around, or is there some reason for these odd shapes? Guru, if you want to see this, let me know and I'll send you the pics.

   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 03/28/06 13:08:03 EST

I need advice on a spring for a post vice. I wanted to increase the tension on my old one and managed to break in two. Would a leaf spring cut down with a chop and shaped be a good choice? I did grind the edges, heat, and mig weld the old one, but now it is very loose. Thanks for any advice.
   - Rob Thompson - Tuesday, 03/28/06 13:13:10 EST

I need advice on a spring for a post vice. I wanted to increase the tension on my old one and managed to break in two. Would a leaf spring cut down with a chop and shaped be a good choice? I did grind the edges, heat, and mig weld the old one, but now it is very loose. Thanks for any advice.
   Rob Thompson - Tuesday, 03/28/06 13:14:09 EST


I have used a piece of leaf spring for that very purpose. It works fine. Just make sure that the curves are bent in it enough to give you good pressure. I didn't even try to harden and temper mine. I just heated and trimmed it down to the correct width with a handled hot-cut and then bent to shape. A nice big C-clamp is handy for testing fit and tension.
   Paul Bilodeau - Tuesday, 03/28/06 13:26:19 EST

Thanks, Paul, I will give it a try. Lesson learned by my mistake.
   Rob Thompson - Tuesday, 03/28/06 14:09:16 EST

Leg Vise Springs: These can also be made of mild steel. The travel on these springs (1/8 to 1/4") is very little and well within the range of a mild steel spring. The big advantage to the mild steel springs is that they are easy to adjust. A few factory springs I have reset seemed to be close to mild steel.

I make mine with a slight "S" shape so that the bottom rolls against the outer jaw rather than the edge pushing on it. The older hand made springs had a little fish tail forged on them and the corners folded around the leg to keep it centered.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/28/06 16:07:01 EST

Dear Gurus,
I am making Roycroft style vases and need liver of sulpher to finish. Chemestry was in 1966. Is lop plain old potash fertilizer? The cheapest I've found is $10. for 4 oz.
Thanks, Steve
   Steve Paullin - Tuesday, 03/28/06 16:11:24 EST

Odd re-bar: TNG, The twisted stuff is pretty standard for OLD rebar. No clue on the "U" shaped stuff. Not much reinforcing steel was used 200 years ago except for lintles and crane anchors. Sounds like it might be a repair.

In our old Grist Mill dam a number of old gears and various scrap was used in the 1920 repair. The edges of one huge (30") bevel gear marks the dam drain. There was also part of a mill stone crane in one of the concrete wheel supports. Modern archeology. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/28/06 16:17:06 EST

Heavy Drill Safety: I was drilling 3/8" holes in the 3/8" plate on the deck of a barge, with a heavy duty drill. Six holes were needed and five were done when the drill hung up on going through the plate on the sixth hole. It threw me into the river! I'm glad it was river and not concrete! I still have and use the drill.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 03/28/06 16:54:24 EST

Steve Paullin: that sounds like a reasonable price. It is technical grade potassium sulfide. The SULFATE of potassium is used in some fertilizers. it will NOT work. Sodium sulfide will also work. Check with chemical dealers. It may be hard to buy, as most chemical sellers have stopped selling to individuals.
   - John Odom - Tuesday, 03/28/06 16:59:28 EST

Anybody now of a steel browning or bluing solution that can be made without harsh acids. It's for those 1" hex bar tomahawks that I have been asking about. I've made two in the last two days. Both have turned out nice. I forged both of them on an 82# anvil. This weekend I am going to buy a 144# PW in great shape for $2 a #.
   - Tyler Murch - Tuesday, 03/28/06 17:38:56 EST

Tyler, Brownell's carries bluing and browning solutions quite reasonably, probably easier than tracking down the ingredients yourself these days. Also, for browning, you can put the items, after thorough degreasing, in an area of high humidity (humidifier or vaporizer works well), let them rust for a bit (check daily), steel wool the rust down, if not the color you want, repeat, then finish with oil.
   Ellen - Tuesday, 03/28/06 18:10:54 EST

When core drilling has been required at the plants I have worked at we have both contracted and done it in house. The equipment is not cheap. Often for the bigger holes, say 6" or 8" for bollards, we would anchor bolt down the drill stand to allow enough down force. You also need a large wet/dry vac as a lot of concrete slurry is generated.

At the boiler shop we had a treasure trove of antique tools in riveted chests for the boiler erectors. I helped to scrap out about a hundred of the boxes. The employees got first chance. There were Yale chain hoists in good working condition to 10 ton! Also many very large Ingersol-Rand drill motors. These monsters had roll throttles for the air valve and some were rated to a 4" in steel!!! These had an intergal screw jack on the rear with a handwheel to allow enough feed, and were equipped with pipe thread sockets for side handles. I set one up to use as an operator to open/close valves in a 1000F test furnace. the drill motor had to overcome the friction from the wall packing and the valve stem packing, and the operating thread friction as they wore and or galled. It would gladly twist a 410 SS stem in half if it galled. These were 1 1/4" dia. stems. The thing roared like a motorcycle with no muffler.
I guess those old traveling boiler erectors were real tuff guys!
There were many old spud wrenchs made in our shop, some that took all my power to lift. Most of this stuff went back to the 30 and 40's. I did collect a variety of hand forged box and open end wrenchs, all stamped HVM for the Henry Vogt Machine Co. Founded in 1880, from a previous partnership started in about 1860, and broke into parts in 1996. My division sorta was sold into slavery in 2002. ( sold and moved to India. :(
   - ptree - Tuesday, 03/28/06 19:45:24 EST


I bought a leg vise with cracked spring three years ago. I welded the spring, figuring I'd make a new one when it broke again. That hasn't happened yet. A new spring is a great project and all, but if you just want a vise that works, can you heat and recurve the spring you welded?
   Mike B - Tuesday, 03/28/06 20:08:04 EST

Browne or blue: Tyler, the rust finish Ellen mentions is a classic finish. On small parts and gun bits and pieces it was done in a "damp box". This was a wood box with racks to hold the parts and damp rags in the bottom to increase the humidity. Sometimes they had a small alcohol lamp to raise the temperature so that the atmosphere would hold more moisture.

The trick is an absolutely perfectly clean finished metal and then NOT touching it with your hands. Parts like gun barrels had wood plugs fitted to the ends to handle and support them.

The process starts slow. You dip or wipe on a salt solution then let the piece rust for a few days or a week then boil the piece to "fix" the rust then "card" off the loose rust with the edge grain of a piece of wood or very fine wire brushor steel wool. Rust, boil, clean and rust again, and again and . . . When done boil the parts with a weak lye solution to neutralize and apply oil and wax.

Alternately you can do the same then soak in a copper sulfate solution. Copper plates the places where there is still free iron and make as warmer browne.

Salamoniac (5% solution) is faster and produces a blacker browne. Same method as above.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/28/06 21:21:07 EST

Odd concrete reinforcement.

When I visited the Henry Mercer "Tool Museum" in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, I noticed that a bit of rag (fabric) was in evidence every now and then as part of the concrete interior wall. One of the docents said that some of the reinforcement was done with rags [!?] Perhaps the builders used it at a binder when hard-plastering. The castle-like building, six stories tall, was begun in 1913, and the museum was opened in 1916. It is estimated that Mercer poured 65,000 tons of concrete to complete the building, and he did use iron bars and mesh as reinforcement for the entire structure. It is a National Historic Site.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/28/06 22:06:01 EST

Big Milwalkee RotoHammer: I mentioned that the rotary drive was clutched- to elaborate, this size tool drills by hammering, and the rotation is for debris removal and to keep the carbide tips hammering on new locations as it turns. The rotating force is easily handled by hand, when it binds up the hammer part keeps hammering and works itself free. When the 2" coredrill is a foot or more deep in the wall it binds up often, You just wiggle it around untill it starts turning again. If working "Down" this is a one man job. Into a wall You prop the tool up because it is heavy, and rig a piece of lumber to get leverage to push it into the hole. I neve had to work "UP", and don't want to. This tool is obsolete, I don't know what the newer ones are like.
   Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 03/28/06 23:41:52 EST

My house is listed in the historical registry in Doylestown. If anyone here is told by wives/friends, etc. that you have too much "junk" or tools or stuff, tell them to go see the Mercer Museum. It is a monument to Henry Mercer, who has been called the worlds biggest packrat. Just about anything and everything that a man could have gotten his hands on during a lifetime is there. Anyone passign through the Philly area, I highly recommend you check it out. While you're there, check out my house at the Historical House registry.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/29/06 08:44:33 EST

Mike, yes I have a forge, acutally two propane and coal. Should I quench or just let it air cool, or I have and ash box with ash from a wood stove to put it in. Thanks
   Rob Thompson - Wednesday, 03/29/06 10:21:00 EST

Is there any flux use for the powder inside fire extinguishers? I have a spent cylinder I chopped up (too bad I didn't know it was aluminum!), got some extra powder laying all over the place. Can I mix it with borax?
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/29/06 10:45:11 EST

Purple-K fire extinguishing powder: Mixture of potassium and sodium bicarbonates, silicates and silica.

Nothing that would disolve metalic oxides and it would tend to put out your forge fire. . . The silicates are added to make it flow better as a powder.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/29/06 11:14:51 EST

Early Medieval Iron Smelting

Darrell Markewitz of Wareham Forge has a very good article on his experiments on Medieval iron smelting techniques at: http://www.warehamforge.ca/ROMiron
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/29/06 11:42:30 EST

The safest thing to do with the vise spring is to let it air cool. It will probably be plenty strong that way, and you won't have to worry about cracking it. In the unlikely event it ends up too soft to hold its shape, you can worry about figuring out how to harden it then. There's no need to anneal, so you won't need the ashes.
   Mike B - Wednesday, 03/29/06 19:54:41 EST

Cost of Machinery: Some 20 years ago our family business built machine tools for $5/pound. That was when steel was 20 cents a pound. We made wages, not huge corporate profits. Back then the machinists got less $20/hr and engineers around $25. The money was in field services training crews and advising on use of the machinery.

Small Power Hammers: In 1998 when I did a comparison of all the air hammers on the market the Chambersburg sold for $17/pound and was higher when you factored in an air compressor. Too high in a competitive market. The Kuhn and KA-75 were around $10/pound but the KA jumped considerably when an air compressor was factored in. The Original Bull sold for $5 and the 'Old Blue" sold for less than $3/pound and less than $5/pound WITH an air compressor. This was amazing considering what it cost to build machinery a decade earlier.

Interestingly the price of the Kuhn's have not changed. However, the optional solid steel base is no longer available due to steel prices. A hollow base is supplied.

To compare three hammers, the Big BLU, Kuhn and Chinese hammers you must go to a heavier model range where the ram weights are close. This means the big Kuhn C/KF-65 (145#), the 165# chinese hammers and the BigBLU QC-155. Even then you have some disparities that make comparison difficult.

The Kuhn is a $21,000 hammer and is 10 HP even though the ram weight is the least of the three. The price per pound is estimated to be around $9 (without knowing the total weight). The BigBLU requires an air compressor and that must be added bringing the price per pound to $3.60. The Chinese hammer is an amazingly low $1.80/lb.

However, that size Striker or Anyang is $2,000 more than the US built Big BLU. If instead of price per pound you use ram weight per dollar Kuhn = 144, Say-Mak = 72, Chinese = 60, Big BLU (including air compressor) = 50.

Note that there are many other things to compare in power hammers but the above is the bottom line. There is throat height, working height, throat depth, blows per second. . .

The hammers I did not include in this impromptue comparison do not have published prices. Some also do not provide total machine weight or anvil ratio (or misconstrue frame mass with anvil mass). This is the information age folks, wake up.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/30/06 11:18:24 EST

I am writing/compiling a book about old world skills; metalworking, architecture, capentry, fiber production and simple mechanical weaving, to name a few. I would like it to be somewhat of a how-to manual, giving people enough information to get started (properly, of course) in these skills and begin learning on their own.
Now, I understand no one is going to become a master blacksmith after reading a 100 page chapter in a historical book, but I would like to include enough information for advanced learners to begin some basic skills that they could continue to develop if they are motivated.
My question is what books, classes, or contacts are you aware of that would best guide me in beginner knowledge that can grow into advanced skills. Thank you.
   Jim - Thursday, 03/30/06 11:20:05 EST

Another way to compare these machines is using anvil eficiency. However, not all the frame applies to anvil efficiencies and neither does added bases. The only mass that really counts is that directly under the ram and the rest can be apportioned at a considerably lesser percentage.

Then the comparison is Cost / (Ram weight * Efficiency)

Getting good engineering specs from many of the manufacturers in this regard is almost impossible. Back in the day when Chambersburg bragged about their anvil efficiency it was pretty easy. They had a seperate anvil that was 15x OR 20x the ram weight. On one piece hammers they only used the mass in the anvil and pretended the rest of the frame was cut off. Foundations and bases had no place in their engineering. Even Little Giants have a 15:1 ratio when you cut off the frame.

In the end what you REALY want to know is total productivity, pieces/dollar cost/day.

Productivity includes things like ease of changing dies, machine controlability, operator fatigue (caused by noise, vibration, bad ergonimics).

Cost includes initial cost, operating cost and maintenance. How much down time will you have if something wears out or breaks?

The REAL bottom line is that if you make money blacksmithing, forging steel or make a living doing so and you do not have a power hammer then every day you DO NOT then you are losing time and money.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/30/06 11:52:07 EST


See the review of "The artist Blacksmith" by Peter Parkinson on the Anvilfire Bookshelf page. It is one of the best basic books I've run across.
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/30/06 11:54:41 EST

Jim, not trying to burst your bubble, but how is your planned book going to be different than the blue gazillion others of the same type already out there?

For instance, the Foxfire series, the "Back to Basics" volume from Reader's Digest, the many smithing-specific books listed in the Anvilfire "Getting started in blacksmithing" page, just to barely scratch the surface, already exist and are the standard references for that sort of thing.

Again, I'm not trying to be mean at all, but that's a tough market to crack.
   Alan-L - Thursday, 03/30/06 11:59:01 EST

hi is possible to make a gas fired steel melting furnace in Pakistan.Is it economically feasible or not.
   yamin - Thursday, 03/30/06 12:44:21 EST

Jim, "Blacksmithing for the Home Craftsman" by Joe Pehoski and "A Blacksmith's Primer" by Randy McDaniel, and many, many more. See "Navigate" pulldown menu for advertisers, some of whom carry books.

Also, my classes in Santa Fe.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/30/06 13:25:34 EST

Book: Jim, "Old World Skills" implies an historical approach. Is this to a historical reference or a practical how-to. Is the how-to going to assume starting in the real world (western or third world?), or some imagined post apololyptic world where survivalist skills are needed?

What you may be attempting to write has already been done by COSIRA, AKA The Countryside Agency, UK as a series for r teaching and preserving basic rural arts and crafts. The book is titled The Blacksmiths Craft. CLick link for more. This book is also available on-line for free. Then there are very complete books such as the Peter Parkinson book mentioned by ViCopper (also on our review page).

To acurately write on these skills you really need to partake in them. I've done all the things in your list other than fibre production. . I'm not much on goats and sheep or flailing flax or picking cotton. I have knitted, crocheted, built and used girdle looms and table top looms as well as study the construction of . I've also worked in ceramics including hand and mold work.

How to Get Started in Blacksmithing depends on the starting frame work. Our captioned article here assumes you are in the Western world where resources, tools and scrap are plentiful. However, if you are writing for a village in Africa the situation is different. Mud forges dug in the earth and sitting on the ground to work is still common in Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Where our article is written for the hobbiest and dilettante it is not written for the would be professional.

For my first book project I spent a year looking for the reference I wanted to write and illustrate. It took that long to be sure it did not exist. The project is still on the back burner, it needs a publisher or investro to put a quarter mill into it.

My second book project is one I've batted around here. I know it does not exist and that there is a need for it. I just need to find a year to work on it. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/30/06 13:38:07 EST

Pakistan: Yamin, there are MANY types and sizes of furnace. Do you actually want to melt metal (not forge it). What metal and how much at a time? Is this for reclaiming scrap or making castings? Is it to be a full time operation or part time?

From here the economics are difficult to answer. If gas is readily available (bottled propane or piped natural gas) then it is probably economical. In most of the world only charcoal is cheaper fuel than bottled propane. If propane is available for cooking it can be used in a small shop to cast little brass castings of a kilogram or so. For high production or larger castings a commercial or industrial supply of fuel would be needed.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/30/06 13:46:44 EST

Note the question from Pakistan was about casting *steel* a much more difficult metal to cast as you don't expect that just melting it will provide the same alloy and properties as the starting charge material.

Just the chemistry of the slag used to protect the molten steel is very complex and not a backyard process.

Casting of cast iron is *much* simpler and easier!

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/30/06 14:24:34 EST


I think this go missed in he ensuing hammer discussion. To answer your question we'd need to know what it looks like (size, shape, color), what markings are on it (if any), how good a shape it is in (stand solidly? much rust and broken bits, blower?).

In the end, it is worth as much as you can get someone to pay for it. If you search through eBay you can find a number of forges for sale, labelled as antiques (right). Various prices abound. Same item could go for $50 in a farm sale, or $200 at an antique shop . . . if they had a yen to carry such a thing (probably as a unique plant holder).

I would guess that would give you enough to start with.
   Escher - Thursday, 03/30/06 16:54:55 EST

I found a small padlock in an old dresser. The name on it is Harrison Lock Company, it also says, "4 LEVERS" on the top left side, No.17 is imprinted on one side of the keyhole and the other word looks like "ALIGARY" on the other side of the keyhole. There also is a cover for the keyhole that you slide over it. It's almost in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head. Could you tell me how old this might be?
   Lisa Kirchoff - Thursday, 03/30/06 17:49:22 EST

Lisa, Although I know a little about locksmithing I am not an expert on antique locks. I do know that locks this style were commonly used from the mid 1800's through the mid 1900's. Variations of them are still manufactured in India and Pakistan, especially popular collectable types (forgeries when sold by dealers here as antiques).

Try this link:

Harrison Locks, UK
   - guru - Thursday, 03/30/06 18:57:07 EST

This question may seem odd coming from one who smiths.....
There is a crew doing some welding in the warehouse where I work. This welding is going on in an area where many of my co-workers pass by close to the welding site during the day. My question is this: How close to a welding arc can one work without eye protection without fear of flash burns to the eye ? Or better yet...How far away from a welding arc must one be so as not to get flash burns to the eyes ? I notice that there are members of the construction crew standing within a few feet of the person doing the welding most of the time and they are not wearing any eye protection. Note that these same workers are cutting stock and useing grinders without wearing safety glasses also so I have no confidence that they are useing much common sence. Thanks ,
   Harley - Thursday, 03/30/06 20:26:40 EST

Harley, That is a difficult question. I usualy say if you can hear the arc crackling then you need some flash protection (20 feet or closer) AND you need to know better than to stare at the arc from any distance. OSHA would say that everyone in the area needs protection. . . EXCEPT that they do not know how much, it is up to the employer to set the limits, protection level and rules. But OSHA says it "must be sufficient to protect. . "

Distance helps but then how far away is the sun. . . how hot is the arc? How big a rod? Too many variables.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/30/06 20:43:05 EST

I enjoy making knives from cable, for the lat 4 years I have made about 150 most of them have the same cable as the handle and then it is forge welded on the end. After that I shape a ball on the end using a belt sander. My wife saw a picture of one in the local paper, and wanted one. That picture was the only picture I have seen of one that someone else made. I would like to see more pictures of this style of knife. Do you know of any websites that may have some? Thanks
   Lyle - Thursday, 03/30/06 22:21:35 EST

Harley - As there is no real answer, I offer this:Treat the arc like the sun, because the problems are the same. Dont look at it, and don't let it shine on exposed skin at close range or You will get sunburn. How close? It depends on the length of exposure. Walking by at 2 feet once isn't a problem, but a work station 15 feet away from a welding station all day long might be. Another thing to be aware of is the flashing may distract You and cause You to have an accident or screw up Your work. After the fact, sunburn when You weren't in the sun or sandy feeling eyes means You had too much exposure.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/31/06 00:14:45 EST


I am a student of jewellery, silversmithing and hand-engraving in Sydney, Australia. As part of my studies I will be specialising in damascening (the inlay of fine gold into iron or steel).

Lately I have been trying to source some iron. This has proved quite difficult, however I have found one company who has some pure iron (99.98% pure) in rod form.

I have worked with mild steel sheet (1 - 1.5mm sheet), but I have never worked with iron. I want to form iron sheet/forms, which I will engrave and inlay. I am hoping that you might be able to tell me about working it. Is pure iron workable? Any tips on forging it? Does it anneal? Any information you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

I am looking forward to your response.

With thanks & kind regards,
   Emma - Friday, 03/31/06 05:51:45 EST

Hi i'm a student of metallurgical & materials engineering in University of engineering and technology, Lahore (Pakistan).
Our final year project is to make a "gas fired melting furnace" it may be cast iron or steel or any other meterial like brass etc.etc.
our main purpose is to use a recuperator for recycling.
I want some references books. If some body can send me books or links of the sites from where i can pick these books, ill be very thank ful for this..
my e-mail adress is yamin101@gmail.com

Any suggession to our project will be appreciated.
   yamin - Friday, 03/31/06 06:18:43 EST

   yamin - Friday, 03/31/06 06:26:36 EST

Mild Steel, Pure Iron, Wrought Iron: Emma, good quality mild steel has POINT 18% carbon and much less silicon than others, that is 99.81% pure iron. Special low carbon steel has .08% carbon and a little more silicon making it 99.91% pure iron. Good "pure" iron is 99.993% to 99.997% iron.

Wrought iron which has very little carbon may have up to 5% silicon slag grains in the iron. Wrought is said to be "pure" iron with slag inclusions.

Very low carbon and pure iron do not harden by heat treatment but do work harden albiet less than carbon steels.

Aneaing is different than non-ferrous metals in that you heat steel to a red heat and let it cool very slowly. This is usually achieved by packing the hot steel in an insulating medium such as quick lime, wood ash, vermiculite or Kaowool. I am not sure about annealing pure iron from work hardening, it may simply need to be heated and cooled normally.

Pure iron and wrought iron work very well cold. Both can be forged hot but wrought must be worked at a bright yellow. Cracks may develop if worked in the red range.

Wrought is difficult to weld by modern methods and is best forge welded. Pure iron may be torch welded. For electric processes you need special pure iron wire or rods to keep the metalurgical properties.
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 08:41:53 EST

The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alex Weygers is one of my favorites. It is a compilation of instructional manuals from the fifties I believe. I also like Charles McRavens book, the name evades me at the moment. Alan is right, there is a metric ton of book titles out there already.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/31/06 08:45:03 EST


Yes, pure iron can be worked very nicely. It forges very easily, anneals much better than steel, and engraves much more easily than steel. It is somewhat slower to work harden than mild steel, but it will do so. Anneal by heating to non-magnetic and cooling slowly in ashes or other insulating medium. When working with relatively thin sheet (under 1/4"-6mm), it helps to heat another, heavier piece of steel and cool the two together. The mass of the heavier piece resists the rapid cooling of the thinner stock.

You can forge pure iron cold, with periodic annealings, much like sterlling silver. More difficult to move, of course. I prefer to forge it hot, heating to a bright yellow-orange and stopping when it has cooled to deep dark red. To preserve the heat as long as possible, I warm up my anvil face first by heating a heavy block of steel in the forge and placing it on the anvil. Even getting the working surface up to 250F (125C) will significantly extend your working time.

For a source of almost pure iron in sheet form, try to locate a company that makes electrical transformers. The plate used to laminate transformer cores is pretty pure iron.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/31/06 08:55:33 EST


ABANA, the Artists Blacksmiths Association of North America sells a small set of plans to build a recuperative forge designed by Robb Gunter of Sandia Labs. It is a gas-fired recuperative forge, but could be modified to be a melting furnace for non-ferrous metals. The plans are 20 USD, I believe, and available at:

   vicopper - Friday, 03/31/06 09:01:53 EST

Wrought iron:

I've learned to be careful talking about "low carbon" wrought iron lately. A fellow was selling wrought iron bars made from anchor chain to knifemakers recently, and had a piece analized to prove it was wrought. It spec.'ed as 0.2% carbon, or the same as 1020 mild steel! Were it not for the obvious slag structure within the metal, it wouldn't be considered wrought iron by many folks. I suspect it was a result of open-hearth puddling of pig iron in which all the carbon was not "burned" out.
   Alan-L - Friday, 03/31/06 09:02:12 EST

Charles McRaven's book is (as I remember) The Country Blacksmith. Presently out of print, it was about to be reprinted a couple of years ago, but then that fell through. Usually available through the library i=or an inter library loan (ILL).

Busy mornning, gotta run! :-)
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 03/31/06 09:03:45 EST

Recupretive Furnace: Yamin, See our book review page for the books by Steve Chastain. Although they are not exactly what you are looking for they are very close and have a LOT of technical information about combustion and combustion efficiency. There is also the book by Michael Porter Gas Burners (review incomplete).

Part of the problem with recupretive furnaces is the fan or blower must withstand the heat of the incoming air. The exhust heat exchanger usualy needs to be stainless steel but does not need to be very efficient as you only need a small amount of heat to make a large difference in furnace temperature.

Note that for many purposes recupretive furnaces produce too much heat and excessive oxidation. The purpose and performance of the furnace must be carefully evaluated.
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 09:35:15 EST

Riight!! The Country Blacksmith - A Primer of Tools, out of print you say? My lady gifted me a brand new copy for my birthday about a year ago. I believe she got it at Borders, I have even seen it there. It's basically a reprint of his original book published in 1981, there's a foreword in the book that McRaven writes "2005" in it, so it has to be the updated version. That book gives a LOT of really helpful information about smithing. I particularly like his insight on one-step tempering. I'm gonna have to try that one of these days.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/31/06 09:36:06 EST

further info for those needing it:

The Blacksmith's Craft: A Primer of Tools and Methods
Charles McRaven
Product Details:
ISBN: 1580175937
Format: Paperback, 247pp
Pub. Date: May 2005
Publisher: Storey Books

That was Barnes and Noble.
   Escher - Friday, 03/31/06 11:06:47 EST

Hi Folks...I have some metal which I acquired thinking/hoping it is wrought iron. I read your document on tests for determining wrought iron. I applied these tests to the metal in question.

the tests:

observed spark test-- similar to but sorta in between known samples of wrought iron and mild steel

saw in half and break over test--- broke and looked like mild steel

Nitric Acid test--- compared to samples of railroad rail, a file, known WI, black steel pipe--- RR rail bubbled a little and turned black instantly; file did nothing at all, known WI bubbled mildly and turned brown slowly; black steel pipe bubbled a little and turned blackish brown; sample in question bubbled a little more mildly and turned brown instantly

The tests seem inconclusive when taken accross the board. Then I read in your notes that "triple refined" WI reacts similar to mild steel. Normally I would conclude that this is more highly refined WI...BUT...the metal in question came from the wheel rims of a logging wagon found in the woods with trees grown up through it. Not the likely place to find highly refined WI.

Is there a more conclusive test to determine WI? I do intend to forge weld some of it when I get the opportunity and this may tell me more.

Thank you,
   DanL - Friday, 03/31/06 11:07:52 EST

McRaven's book is very good. It is reminds me of Ted Tucker's "practical projects for the blacksmith" I think that is the name. Regardless, they are both good books.I liked McRaven's book so much I bought his stoneworking & hewn-beam house books."NO I don't know the guy, but would like to meet him" I think I got them on amazon.com.
   stroker - Friday, 03/31/06 11:53:14 EST

"Is this to a historical reference or a practical how-to. Is the how-to going to assume starting in the real world (western or third world?), or some imagined post apololyptic world where survivalist skills are needed?"

The book will be a practical how-to for the present and the future. I plan to include both shortcuts available to some of us in the west as well as primitive basics for people with nothing but stone knives and elbow grease.

I have done everything in my partial list, and mastered some, except blacksmithing. I plan to add blacksmithing to my skills in order to write comprehensively about it, rather than plagiarizing.

I can't disclose everything that makes my book differrent. But it will be aimed at the extreme do-it-ALL-yourselfer. Somewhat of a guide to independance from the economy for those who are up to the challenge. I for one won't be quitting my day job until I own some land. But in this world of soaring population and plummetting property ownership, (specifically in the U.S.) a culture of young people has been developing that would prefer to do anything besides minimum wage slavery. Currently these youngsters tend to drift towards selling drugs and stealing cars. Having a guide to living without paying anyone to do things for you isn't going to make every hopeless, skill-less McDonald's employee put down the crackpipe and spatula and build a forge out in the woods. But it seems to me that good ideas are needed and even if a small handful are steered away from destruction it would be worth more to me than any financial gain.
   Jim - Friday, 03/31/06 12:46:11 EST

OK Jim, so where are you at? We have blacksmiths worldwide, and almost everyone is willing to share the knowledge of smithing. Many of our groups have open forge nites, where you can come,learn, and play. We have demos all over, huge blacksmithing events, and even smithing schools. Share your location, and the odds are, there will be some helpfull smiths close by.
   Bob H - Friday, 03/31/06 13:37:52 EST

More on chinese air hammers-
I am not quite so down on them as the guru- I have been running my 88lb Anyang for about 4 years now, with no real problems beyond the crummy chinese mag starter switch. It seems plenty well built to me- I always run my tools a bit hard- in fact, my only complaint is that it isnt bigger- If I had it to do over again, I would buy a 165lb.

But one thing the guru doesnt get into is the difference between a two piece and a one piece hammer. Most all american self containeds were two piece hammers, with a separate anvil that sits in a hole in the main casting. The smaller chinese hammers are one piece, with the anvil just part of the main casting.
Mine is one of the very few 88lb 2 piece hammers brought in by James Cosgrove of Striker when he was starting out. As such, it weighs in somewhere around 3500 to 4000lbs, with a separate anvil that weighs between 1000 and 1300lbs- he doesnt have the specs on his website anymore, and I dont want to take it apart and put the anvil on my wifes bathroom scale, so I am not sure of the exact weight, but if you do the math, that is between a 1:11 and 1:14 ram to anvil weight, which is much more in line with the chambersburg/Nazel proportions. My anvil weighs close to twice what a big blue anvil does, and yet my ram is smaller.

Two piece hammers are available from Striker and Anyang in the larger sizes, so if you are really concerned about ram/anvil weights, you can get a 2 piece instead of a one piece. You will have to build a base- I built one for mine, getting the dies to my prefered height, from 1/2" plate- it wasnt a big deal.

Frankly, considering all the people that get by just fine with 25lb little giants, I think ANY chinese hammer is going to be a big step up, regardless if they arent built as well as a chambersburg, especially considering they are 1/20th the cost of what a new chambersburg would be.

In my shop, with a big plasma cutting table and air tools, we would have to double the size of the compressor to run a utility hammer like a big blue- currently we run a 7 1/2 hp compressor that cost over 3 grand new. If I ran a utility hammer, I would definitely go with a rotary screw compressor, but then you are talking REAL money. So for me, having a self contained hammer is cheaper and more convenient.
I know a good dozen or more smiths up here running 3 different brands of chinese hammers- and I havent heard complaints about them. Sure, any one of them would probably prefer a nice new condition Nazel 2b or 3b, especially if it came with about a $5000 moving, rigging and footing grant from publishers clearinghouse. But finding an american made hammer in good condition is harder and harder, and the expense of owning a big hammer is nothing to sneer at- big toys cost big bucks. The chinese hammers are relatively cheap, self contained, and available.
   - Ries - Friday, 03/31/06 13:41:35 EST

Wrought Iron or Not Wrought Iron?:

Spark test? Yes there is often little difference between mild and wrought. The trick is to use a heavy coarse wheel that throws large long sparks. You also need clean metal, not just the surface.

The break test is usualy the best test as you can see the grain. Sometimes it will break fairly clean but there will be pulled grains or threads of iron between the pieces.

You can also try to harden a piece. Even good relatively low carbon SAE 1018 mild steel will harden enough to wreck a center punch or feel very hard under a file. Heat to a good red, drop in water and test. Quenched mild steel will often break if you try to bend it sharply. Wrought will generally not harden. There are exceptions where puddled iron was worked carelessly.

Wagon wheels are often a source of good wrought. Many wheelwrights were picky about their materials. However, many have been and ARE tired with mild steel as well.
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 14:04:08 EST

I currently have access to a anvil that i may be able to attain for free, there a bit of glue on the top (easy fix) but on the right side (looking at it from the fron horn) almost the entire edge of the anvil has had a 1/4 inch chipped off, i want to know if theres any quick and easy way to fix it without great cost and having to retemper the face, I beleive the damage is because of it having been used in a high school and abused by the children who have no idea of how to respect it, in short I want to know a simple way to fix it
   kyani - Friday, 03/31/06 14:07:55 EST

I would like to use a propane quick disconnect for my 100lb. tank to run a gas forge. I was told by my local welding supplier that the connections are restrictive. Is this true and if so, are there non-restrictive connections available? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
   Rhoof - Friday, 03/31/06 14:18:35 EST

Kyani: There are anvils and there are anvils. Without knowing the specifics of yours it is difficult to give you an answer. Is there a brand name on the side with the horn to the right? Can you see an obvious top plate? If so, is the damage restricted to the top plate or does it extend into the body?
   Ken Scharabok - Friday, 03/31/06 14:42:02 EST

Kyani, could you just radius the edge? That would be quick and easy.
   Mike H - Friday, 03/31/06 15:00:25 EST

Hi Guru,

Thanks for the Wrought Iron info. I will attempt to harden a piece.

Thanks again,
   DanL - Friday, 03/31/06 15:04:48 EST

Jock, the blower/fan doesn't always have to withstand the heat of the incoming air. In our glass furnaces at Punahou we used three- or four-member rectangular stainless heat exchangers mounted in chimneys above the burner heads. The air for the exchanger was supplied at the exhaust end and went right into the burner block, and was pumped by a venturi running on compressed air, although a blower would do as well. It only took a foot or two of stainless pipe to get far enough from the furnace's exhaust to use what I recall as some kind of flexible plastic tubing to supply air. Burner block was basically a surface mix setup, with a central gas jet and the preheated air jet swirling around it. I don't even want to think about what the gas consumption on those would have been like without the exchangers...

Rhoof, I haven't had any problems with quick disconnects restricting flow, although I imagine they'd do so to some degree. If you have a very large gas forge, you may want to go up to a 1/2" quick disconnect, which are quite a bit harder to find. Personally, I would try the standard one first, and if it did turn out to be too restrictive I would return it or use it for another device (weed burner, torch...) and get a bigger one.

Been raining for forty days and forty nights in Kaneohe, Hawaii.
   T. Gold - Friday, 03/31/06 15:54:10 EST

Next time i can get a chance i'll look at the anvil, it looks like it's a solid cast and tempered, and there aren't but a couple dents in the face, other than that i never really got the best look at it, it's welded down with stell bands onto what i'm guessing is a 33 gallon barrel which i think is filled with sand, and the chips havent gone into the body from what i see, surpisingly there are no visible cracks where the chips where broken from.
   Kyani - Friday, 03/31/06 16:13:26 EST

[BTW excuse my horrible typing]
   Kyani - Friday, 03/31/06 16:14:35 EST

Chinese hammers - Ries, im with you on this one, I sell anyang hammers in the UK and have had no real probs with them (I bin the motor starters straight from the crate!)

Whilst not as good as the 'old school' hammers in some ways, they forge metal, reliably and cheaply. The cost of the hammer delivered can be less than the cost of lifting & shifting & pit foundations for an 'old' hammer. The lack of a factory supplied base has never been a problem, a cubic meter of concrete isnt expensive, or they work well enough on a stack of rail sleepers.

Im not trying to advertise here, I would just say try all the types of hammers, weigh up the pros and cons and buy what suits you the best.

Im in quite a lucky position of having all the toys at my factory, but am still a very very poor smith! - goes to prove all the toys are no substitute for years of experience! ive found the main thing is to enjoy it (funnily enough i prefer hand forging to power hammmer work :)
   John N - Friday, 03/31/06 16:23:00 EST

Thanks T. Gold. I have the N.C. whisper daddy low boy forge and intended to go with the 1/2" connector and found a web site that has them in stock and says that they are thier bbest seller. I would put the site on this post but seem to remember seeing somewhere that this was taboo on this site. Can I provide the source for the couplers?
   Rhoof - Friday, 03/31/06 17:37:09 EST

Chipped Anvil Corners: Kyani, Often this is the result of several factors:

1) Too hard.
2) Not radiused or dressed before use.
3) Abuse.

Old anvils had very hard faces that would resist almost any abuse. The smaller the anvil the harder the face and especially the edges. You could not work directly on these edges. It was recommended by many to radius and dress the corners to prevent chipping. In many cases this advise was never heard or paid attention to and the result was chipped edges.

Once the edges are chipped the best method of repair is to lightly grind the chips to a radius. This is often slightly more radius than you would apply to a new anvil but that is what you get when you do not start right. If you need to reduce the amount of radius on the anvil corners then grind the side of the anvil. This is a surface that is often not dressed and was specified to be finished by some makers.

Chipping by abuse is usualy the result of a heavy misblow or trying to bend cold hard steel over corners. These are usualy sporadic or locallized, not continous. Continous chipping along the edge indicates too hard an edge.

Welding an anvil is a LAST RESORT and only should be done when the anvil is otherwise useless. The anvil face is hardened tool steel. The weld will not have the same characteristics of the base metal and more often than not creates more problems than it cures.

Modern anvils are generally mode of much tougher steels than old anvils and are not hardened to the max like the old anvils to avoid chipping and the resultant warantee problems. I'd rather have a very hard anvil with rounded corners but neither the makers nor the general anvil using public agrees with me.
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 18:13:22 EST

Example of Proper Anvil Dress:
Hofi anvil dressing - Jock Dempsey This is an example of one way to dress an anvil. Here a narrow width (about 3") has been ground to a 3/16" (5mm) radius. The rest of the body and square horn has less but it too is radiused. I would prefer to see the entire width of the body on the far side of the anvil dressed as shown and slightly more on the rest.

On used anvils you often end up with more radius or an uneven radius but this is preferable to welding or MORE chipping. Rounded corners are great for drawing, necking, isolating stock, starting scrolls AND for making properly radiused inside corners.

The fact is that sharp inside corners on forgings is bad practice. Sharp inside corners lead to cold shuts OR points of stress concentration. So why have a feature on an anvil that promotes bad work?
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 19:24:08 EST

Rhoof, I think that posting the URL will be okay as long as it is not too long -- long URLs cause problems on this page. In any case I would appreciate it if you would email it to me; I'm working on a natural gas forge that could use a 1/2" coupler.
   T. Gold - Friday, 03/31/06 19:06:20 EST

Posting informative URL's is fine as long as they are not long dynamic URLs like catalog items or some dynamic pages. If you try to post HTML code (anything in angle brackets <> ) it will be filtered by our forum software. This is to prevent trolls and hackers from posting links to inapropriate pages, images or code fragments.

If you want to post an ebay item refer to it by item number. Also do not post search strings from search engines as these are often too long and often contain dynamic elements that break the link.
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 19:33:42 EST

OBTW Yes, that is Steve Barringer's Hofi Anvil and a Hofi hammer in the photo above.
   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 19:37:56 EST

T Gold: 40 days AND 40 nights? Have you started building an ark yet? Grin!

Ries, do you have any comments on the 33# Anyang? I am curious as it looks like it would be a good beginner's power hammer. While it may not be a big hammer I am sure it will hit a lot harder than I can. And I can get it without paying freight, or hiring a rigger.
   Ellen - Friday, 03/31/06 19:51:30 EST

I have not run a 33lb anyang. But I wonder about a hammer that small- I find my 88lber too small for some things- I guess I would want to make sure it would move the size of metal I wanted to work with it- I wonder if it will do much more than 3/4". If you always work with small stuff, then I guess it would be OK. Personally, 3/8" is small for me, and most of my work is in the 5/8" to 1 1/4" size range.
Any power hammer is better than no power hammer, assuming you want to do things power hammers can do. But they cant do everything, and some things are just plain better done by hand. Also, working extensively with a power hammer, you tend to design towards its strengths- this can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your point of view.
   - Ries - Friday, 03/31/06 20:16:41 EST

Ries, it would have to work at least an inch and a quarter, better yet an inch and a half, at least in hammer size chunks, to be work having. I can do what I need to on 3/4"--including the red hard tool steels--with a hammer and anvil. Note: this does not include drawing out reins on tongs, but I prefer to buy Grant's tongs anyway and put my time and energy in other directions. Everybody should make a few tongs for experience, and I have. If I **had** to make some specialized tongs I would do the jaws,joint, rivet, and weld the reins on. Or draw them out by hand if I had the time. Beats paying to go to a gym like some folks do. Grin!
   Ellen - Friday, 03/31/06 21:54:59 EST

Power Hammer Size: When you have the power to do jobs the right way you start large and work to small. NO UPSETTING. You make a 4" wide or wider element from 1" bar or 1/2 by 2" and reduce the shank to fit 3/4, 5/8, 1/2" or whatever size bar you are working with. In most cases it is easier to work fairly short and weld to long bar but you can also reduce a foot of 1" square into three or four foot of 5/8" or 1/2" square bar or produce a taper from 1/2" round to 5/8" square in the one piece in one or two heats. This avoids a weld and dressing producing a better piece in about the same effort. What I am talking about here is typical architectural or furniture work. This takes a 100 to 150 pound hammer minimum with good control. You can do it with a smaller hammer but the extra heats will quickly cost you the difference in hammer costs.

You CAN work 1" stock in a small hammer. Little Giant practically rated their machines by what would fit under the die at the TOP of the stroke. . . HA! The industrial rule is 50 pounds for 1 sq.in. in mild steel and 70 pounds for alloy steel. However this rule doesn't state what the working length is. . . for practical purposes it is a cube that cross section. So when you start working long bar free hand that 50 pounds dosn't go far.

Back in the "good ol' days" a friend had an archetectural shop with more Little Giants running than anyone else at the time. 25's and 50's came and went but the workhorse was the 100 pound hammer. The only time the small hammers were run was on production jobs forging small stock 3/8" (10mm), 1 x 1/8". Everything else was forged on the 100 pound hammer including long tapers down to paper thin, leaves and other fine decorative elements. 100 pounds is a small hammer for doing fine work as well as larger work.

Any hammer is better than no hammer but it depends on what YOU want to do. Cutlery shops making thousands of table knives or kitchen knives have worn out little 20 and 25 pound hammers and were perfectly happy at that size. You CAN texture 1" bar and point it under a small 25 - 50 pound hammer. But it will not really MOVE the metal. The last job I did on a 50# LG was an order of shutter hooks. It worked great on the 1/4" x 1 and 1/2" square. Took a day to make slightly over a dozen. In fact, if all I was going to do was make this size hardware it is all the hammer I would want. In fact I know people in the hardware business that are perfectly hapy with a 30# Champion. But I would not want to forge 1" under it and make a profit.

Then. . when it comes to saving money you can texture, heavily, hundreds of feet of bar COLD using a 100+ pound hammer and good hard dies. When you can produce in an easy day what the other guy takes a long hard week or more to do PLUS fuel, just how far ahead are you? How much did the other fellow "save" with his small hammer? You are fitting and assembling your job while he is still mindlessly texturing bar. . .

How hard they hit: People are always surprised that a small power hammer CAN NOT hit as hard as they do. When you swing a hammer from overhead it is going VERY fast and that velocity squared beats the mass of the slow moving power hammer. You also have that 50:1 anvil efficiency factor (100%) while the power hammer with a 10:1 anvil is at 40%. It takes over a 100 pound hammer to hit with the same force as a smith with a normal hand hammer and a 200 pound hammer to hit as hard as a striker with a sledge. HOWEVER, the machine will do so all day and all night. . . Just don't expect the little hammer to make as deep a dent as you do in one blow. . .

   - guru - Friday, 03/31/06 22:55:22 EST

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