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Hey all,
quick question,
princessauto has "split leg leather aprons"(36 inch split cowhide, kevlar sewn and riveted for 15 bucks)
and, "Leather bib apron" 42 inch long, kevlar sewn and riveted, for 24 bucks )
which one is better?
or more to the point, what are the pros and cons of both.
   Cameron - Wednesday, 02/28/07 23:11:39 EST

Mike Mc: Sounds like there is too much air for the ammount of propane. You can choke down the air or run a separate line to feed extra gas, both work.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/01/07 01:15:18 EST

Andrew - A/O torch: The torch MIGHT have the capacity to cut 6" plate, but I would want a torch that would keep My hands 2' away from the tip. Even cutting 2" plate with a cutting atachment has You close enough to the action to keep it exciting. Along with the brands Miles mentioned I would add Concoa. They made the Airco brand torches. As mentioned a 230volt buz box is the cheapest way to weld. I used an old Forny 180 amp AC "Farm Welder" quite a lot over the years. New machines from Lincoln or Miller are not overly expensive, there are always some used ones on Ebay as well. I have no experience with the low cost import gear, electric or gas.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/01/07 01:26:18 EST

A historical machineshop question,,
What would a typical rpm speed of a line shaft be in a (waterturbine powered)factory,?
I am referring to the mainshaft that would run along the center of the building that all other machines drawn their power from.

Was there a general rule of thumb for lineshaft equipment or would it have been totally based on whatever speed the waterturbine for that particular installation could work optimally and consistiently at ?

   - Sven - Thursday, 03/01/07 01:48:31 EST

Chris: Let me recommend two books to you. The Arts of Blacksmithing by Alex Bealer and The Backyard Blacksmith by Lorelei Simms. Carried by most of the Internet booksellers or a local bookstore can get you copies. Your local library may also be able to get loaner copies.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Thursday, 03/01/07 05:26:12 EST

Camerson: For what appears to be a very nice leather apron for the money take a look at eBay #260092080431.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Thursday, 03/01/07 06:25:07 EST

Fixed the vise. The collar popped out, so I just drilled the pilot hole in the screw and it's 100% now. Just a thought: My mini forge had tiny leaks around the burner mounts and the door. I fixed it up with Muffler Mend and she's burning way more effiecently. Any thoughts? The muffler mend is a gray paste that hardens, resists heat up to 1500 (says the packaging). No fiberglass is used.
   - Nippulini - Thursday, 03/01/07 08:42:12 EST


Lots of smiths don't use them, unless they are doing heavy ironwork under big power hammers and/or machinery. They do protect you and they do keep your clothing a little cleaner.

I can't stand the bib and neck strap, especially during the hot summer months. Years ago, I went to Tandy's and bought a tanned cowhide, folded a 2" hem for the belt line, and sewed a buckle and strap to it. When I'm doing heavy work or grinding, I wear it high on my belly above the usual belt line. No bib. Farriers' aprons, on the other hand, are worn below the usual belt line, almost as low as the pants worn by the hip hop kids.

The split leg, if it's not a farriers' pattern, is usually snapped around each leg, and I guess it's designed for bucking hay bales.

I met one smith who claimed that, "Aprons are just for the movies." That was his opinion, so he didn't wear one.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/01/07 09:13:43 EST

ANYthing a spark or a hunk of slag can get into it will some day-- a hole in your jeans, a pants cuff, a shirt pocket, the top of your boots, down the open neck of your shirt, the back of your neck, the top of your naked noggin, the space in a farrier's apron. And it hurts and it burns and the burn gets infected and then there you are spending half a day reading old magazines in the doctor's office waiting to see the great man and then buying some sulfadiazene and hoping it doesn't turn to gangrene. I am not fireproof like Frank. I am a big sissy. I want protection top to bottom. Full leathern apron, jacket (or cape and sleeves at least), gauntlets, cuffs if I am grinding, high-top (steel-toe in some circumstances) boots, goggles or helmet.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/01/07 09:47:09 EST

Burning Steel. Gas Forges: While gas forges do not get hot enough to create a sparkling heat they DO burn steel and create a lot more scale than solid fuel forges. Only the most carefully designed and built do not, but most including factory made forges do.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 10:18:10 EST

I have a leather bib apron that has a "teamsters" style tie. These come up over the shoulders then cross in the back and go to loops on the sides of the apron. Much more comfortable than the loop around the neck. Aprons save wear and tear on clothing. Plus I find wearing it puts me in the work frame of mind.
   JimG - Thursday, 03/01/07 10:27:43 EST

Welding with Gas: 3"???? Who's literature says that???? Sure it is not some mistranslated Chinese?

You can weld heavy plate up to about 1" with a gas welding torch with a REALLY big tip. It moves very slowly and when done a very large section of the plate will be red hot and YOU will feel the same. You will also have used enough fuel to pay for a significant percentage of a good buzz box that would have done the job in 1/10th the time or less. . .

Good oxy-acetylene equipment is an absolute necessity in the modern metal working shop be it a jewelers shop, blacksmith shop or a machine shop. But it has its best uses and other uses it is not good for. It is fine for soldering, brazing and small (often picky) welding. Oxy-acetylene equipment is the most efficient tool for cutting heavy steel but it leaves a rough surface. Anyone building tools or machines would prefer almost any other cutting method (saws) if they were available. But a torch is portable and will cut large or odd shaped pieces that don't fit machines. For fabrication welding you want an arc welder. They are fast, efficient, do not heat so much of the work as gas and do not produce as much scale and warpage.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 10:29:25 EST

I am making a prod for a crossbow out of an old leaf spring, the curve is not enough to give a sufficient brace (distance between centre prod and centre string when not in use) so I will have to change that. This means heating and reshaping, so far so good.... now for my problem, the spring will loose its properties while reshaping and will have to be hardened and tempered again, this is where my problem lies, considering that I have only done ornamental stuff. Can anyone put me in the right direction on the hardening and tempering of leaf springs (already found a great number of sites which help in building the rest of the bow but they all seem to buy that most challenging part.)
   landless - Thursday, 03/01/07 10:33:45 EST

Line Shafting Speeds: Sven, I have taken down quite a bit of this machinery AND done calculations for setting up old flat belt drive machines and found 800 RPM to be fairly common at the jack shafts but slower (300 to 500 RPM) was often used for the line shaft.

Most line shafts were driven by belts and pulleys so that the shaft speed was engineered to be what was most efficient in the matter of pulleys used to drive the many machines.

Take our grist mill. It used 12 foot water wheels that turned 10 RPM. Off them there were primary (bull) gears that speed up pinion shafts to 60 RPM (a big jump). These in turn drove a right angle drive with about a 2:1 step up so you have 120 RPM. From that a large 10" wide belt drove the main (basement) line shaft at about 360 RPM. The belts passing through the floor to the upper levels had further increases but less than 2:1 so the shafts that drove the processing machinery probably ran about 500 RPM (or 400 to 600 depending on water and load).

In a laundry where I removed a big 1800 RPM 10HP Motor it drove the line shaft through a pair of multi V belt pulleys with a 6:1 reduction. This resulted in a 300 RPM line shaft.

In shops with line shafts almost every machine was driven by a different size pulley set. In some cases the clutch was on the line shaft but most often there was a back shaft running the correct speed for the machine and the clutch or shift belts were there.

In a modern line shaft setup the speed would be carefully set to avoid critical speeds where shafts whip and vibrate. This can wreck bearings and in sever cases rip the bearing mounts out or break shafts. This is especially a problem with long shafts and more so when carrying heavy pulleys. Machinery's hand book has the formulas for calculating critical speeds and they should be done for every power transmission setup. This knowledge goes back into the 1800's.

Note that many machines pass through criticals. They are most obvious in high speed machines like bench grinders. Ever notice one slowing down and then it will shake and vibrate like crazy for a moment then stop and smoothly wind down? THAT is a critical the grinder went through. If the machine normally ran at that speed it would self destruct in a very short time. So if you are setting up line shafting, DO THE CALCS.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 10:56:24 EST

Leaf Springs: landless, On one hand this is fairly simple, on the other it takes equipment you probably do not have.

First rule of steel springs, ALL steel has the same springyness (really). What is different between higher carbon spring steel and mild steel is that the spring steel can travel farther without breaking. SO, it is possible to design a mild steel spring that does not need hardening and tempering. They also make 304 SS spring wire because it is tough and springy not needing heat treatment.

The heat treatment depends on the type of steel. However, the rules for most medium carbon steels is close enough to the same that you can use general rules. However, if you KNOW the alloy (say SAE 5160) then you should look up the particulars.

A forged spring needs to be normalized. Heat the heat effected section plus some to the hardening temperature and let cool slowly. Hardening temperature is just at or slightly above the non-magnetic point so you can check with a spring (a low to medium red heat).

Note that normalizing AND hardening should both be done on a "rising" heat, not by overheating and cooling. You only want to heat just enough.

The hard part is the hardening and tempering. The entire piece should be evenly heated. This can be done in the forge with lots of movement. But it is easier in a large gas forge or heat treating oven. When the part is ready then quench in warm oil. Most spring steels are oil hardening and in thin sections they will air quench. You can use water if you know the steel.

Immediately after the quench (before it reaches room temperature) you should temper the spring. Spring temper is relatively soft. Heat to about 600°F or a dark blue on clean steel. On a spring this should also be done evenly. After the spring cools to room temperature you can temper a second time to be sure all of it is well tempered.

As noted at the top a mild steel spring might work. In that case a normalized spring steel spring may hold up better. But to do it right it should be fully heat treated.

See our heat treating FAQ for other information as well as specifics on some steels. Good luck!
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 11:23:50 EST


Were you always like that, or only after that hot BB went down the eyelet of your boot?

I enjoy looking at the old cartoon of the "Cowboy after O.S.H.A."

And beware when wearing gloves at the bench grinder, lest a portion of the glove gets trapped between the tool rest and the wheel. Oh boy!
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/01/07 11:37:32 EST

Aprons: I have one that I wear ocassionally. I use it more for welding than forging but I have used it a lot for forging. Mine is a standard welders apron with about 6" cut off the bottom to make it easier to move with. The dirt staining testifies to its protecting other clothes. Most often it is used as a roll to carry a handful of tools to demos.

At the 1998 ABANA conference the power hammer demonstrator had a long talk about aprons. In the industrial forge shops they used white cotton aprons because leather was too hot and heavy. The white probably reflected heat better than dark leather as well. Aprons tended to catch fire from the radiant heat (remember our discussion about reforging anvils). The advantage of the cotton is that it does not burn rapidly, most often smouldering and you just beat out the fire when you are not working. This made the cotton aprons consumables that were replaced about once a week.

As Miles pointed out. Sparks will go where they want. I have had arc welding sputter balls bounce into my helmet, then my ear, and then wizz around in a circle in my ear making a sound like whistling fireworks. . . I've also had them go down my neck and find their way into my shoes.

When forging the scale is not nearly as crazy as arc welding sputter balls but it IS hot and can burn. An apron mostly protects your clothes.

My blacksmith friend in Costa Rica has a special shirt he wears when working at the charcoal forge. It is burned full of small holes from the charcoal fire fleas. . . Like the cotton apron mentioned above it is a consumable to protect the skin and other clothes.

Like JimG the apron puts me in the shop work frame of mind.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 11:40:33 EST

More Aprons: Generally the split type are used by farriers and the plain by welders. Farriers often wear a heavier waist down split apron for supporting the horses hooves. Note that our advertisers also carry aprons.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 11:44:28 EST

Great cartoon, Frank! Yeah, ever since that sizzling BB, I have had a thing for going leathern. Not at the bench grinder, however.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/01/07 11:58:21 EST

Aspirated propane burners tend to be more oxidizing by their nature as they have to have a pretty good air entrainment to work. Blow burners you can choke down to nothing if you want to and so can adjust the atmosphere in the forge to suit yourself---I have done a job with Way too much air in my blown forge---when I knocked off the heavy scale the surface was very nice and pitted and made a great "dragonskin" for the dragon I was forging for a door knocker---starting with 1" sq stock.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/01/07 12:19:29 EST

Horse safety.

Horsemen say, "A horse folds his front leg, but 'pulls' his hock with the hind leg."

If you're a stranger to horses and you have a split apron, you may put the front foot between your lower thighs, just above your knees [you're facing the horse's hind end]. HOWEVER, the hind leg, when lifted, goes over the outside of your hip and thigh, NEVER in between your lower thighs. Doing it the wrong way, the way a horse is conformed, if the horse takes the hind foot away suddenly, some jewels may go with the foot.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/01/07 12:56:06 EST

Placing your work in the fire:

A forge fire is layered with an oxidizing zone near the tuyere then a neutral zone above that and then a reducing zone above that---and then you work your way out in reverse as outside air starts to be a part of the equation.

In general you want your pice placed *horizontally* in the neutral/reducing section of the fire where it will heat from all sides not just the bottom.

Also the top of the coal pile often has green coal coking up which will glue to your piece and have to be knocked off before working.

If you let your fire get too thin you end up with a very oxidizing fire prone to destroying your work.

Learing to insert and remove your work from the proper place in the fire without messing up the fire is a necessary skill and one that seems to be fairly hard for new smiths to grasp too.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/01/07 12:56:14 EST

OSHA Cowboy

Around the time the OSHA Cowboy carton came out (a few years after I think), OSHA was insisting that there be porta-pots for all the Cowboys. . . Some folks added a porta-pot on wheels to the OSHA Cowboy. Everyone thought it was a big joke but OSHA did not.

NOW. . . can you imagine an OSHA anvil?

Like a mechanical punch press, by the time you put enough guards on one you could not get to it to use.

Shop safety is important and OSHA has done a lot to prevent the abuses of employees that were common in the past. But in many cases they went far overboard about things that were not important while ignoring the big picture. The result has cost the U.S. a lot of money and a lot of jobs that are now being sent overseas.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 13:34:59 EST

Leaf spring in a crossbow - might be worth pointing out that if you get the H.T wrong and that spring lets go it could make more of a mess of you than the bolt will on the thing your aiming at..... could be worth spending the £$ on a known material.

Anyone who has done any heavy milling will know the heat and velocity of a big cutting - well, I heard about a guy who had one land below the belt, on the end, so to speak, apparently quite an embaresing trip to the factory nurse! ( and the mickey taking lasted alot longer than the burn!)
   - John N - Thursday, 03/01/07 15:29:00 EST

Spring Safety: That is why I like low stress mild steel springs if I can use them. The other way to make a safer leaf spring is with multiple leafs. The stacked parts help keep any one broken part in place. The likelyhood of all the stack breaking at the same time is infinitesimal. Automakers have used tapered springs on a number of automobiles and trucks and always return to the multiple leaf for safety.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/01/07 15:34:53 EST

On the topic of aprons, once you feel as if you have the smith part as well as the black don't forget to cut a fringe on the bottom of your apron. http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/stories/King_of_Crafts.htm
   JimG - Thursday, 03/01/07 16:11:27 EST

I always liked the OSHA chainsaw---a padded chainsaw handle mounted to a solid wooden or metal box...

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/01/07 16:34:47 EST


the OSHA chainsaw version I have seen (and handeled)is a swede saw frame with Ball chain ,the same as sink plug chain, in place of the blade
   Mark P - Thursday, 03/01/07 16:56:38 EST

Hi, Our company is looking for ornamental iron workers. Do you have a place to post job openings? We are located in Frisco, TX, a suburb of Dallas.
   Laura Davis - Thursday, 03/01/07 18:25:42 EST

thanks for the help i think i will stick with solid fuel in an old grill. maybe my parents will let me use an electric plower next to the garage this summer. i will use my remaining briquets(bout 7 lbs to get my grill forge working right before i start burning coal. Thanks again
   Chris - Thursday, 03/01/07 19:03:25 EST

Dear Guru -
I'm not sure the "digital rights" Chairman Bill bought of classic art are worth much: The US Supreme Court ruled in the Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp. case of (1999) that "“Slavish copying” of another work, even where it reproduces the work into a different medium, does not have sufficient “originality” to be copyrightable."

In short, photographs of three dimentional works are in themselves copyrightable, since there is an originality of lighting and camera angle, but scans or photographs of paintings and other flat art which have entered the public domain are not.

Your mileage in other legal systems may vary. . .
   John Lowther - Thursday, 03/01/07 19:20:09 EST


I really ought to take this to the hammer-in, but there's a difference between copyrighting a digital copy and buying exclusive rights to distribute an existing work digitally. I haven't looked into it, but I suspect Mr. Gates did the latter. Presumably, his rights will expire when the copyright on the underlying work does -- at least if Congress ever stops extending the term of copyrights.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 03/01/07 20:04:08 EST

Aprons: tried em didn't like them .........felt like I was held down by a ball and chain.........or wearing a skirt.
just my opinion. You wear what you want .
   Harley - Thursday, 03/01/07 20:30:03 EST

Welding with Gas: The Victor lit. says a #10 [.144"] tip is good for welding 2 1/2 to 3" while a #12 [.149"] tip is good for 3 1/2 to 4". The problem is that these tips will require 50 - 100 cubic fet/hour while the #12 needs 80 - 160 CF/HR. This takes manifolded industrial size tanks, 3/8 hose and a high capacity torch handle. I have not done any of this heavy torch welding, but someone was mentioned across the street who welded RR track for a living with a torch, so aparently it is or was done.
   Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/01/07 23:31:56 EST


Mine's the back and neck of a cow (or maybe bull or steer). it's a dead ringer for one in a 12th c. illumination. I wear it all the time and it serves me well, saving me from a number of embarrassments- some self inflicted and some just mischance. I even wear it, along with a leather jerkin, when using the chain saw.

Then again, I think it's fun to spend the weekend in mail and helm, or rowing a longship, so don't go by me. ;-)

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Thursday, 03/01/07 23:58:49 EST

Still here...working at the forge for the last few days, I would say that the pattern called "Popcorn" must be a result of "overheating" as suggested....it looks like what a Meteorite surface looks like after entering the atmosphere...when combines with a smooth polished surface next to it after working the surface with water stones and partial harding using clay...
   Roger - Friday, 03/02/07 06:38:35 EST

I've been using an apron for a week or two now. It's great that I don't have so many little burnt holes, grease and black stains on my shirts whenever I use it.

Hey, any thoughts on my post about using muffler mend to close up leaks on a gas forge?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/02/07 09:43:55 EST

Digital Copyright: What Gates bought was an exclusive license from the museums to distribute the paintings digitally. Museums, do not actually own copyrights of the objects they own but they control who photographs them and then those photographs have copyright status. While neither owns copyright in the art the resulting digital copies are copyrightable.

Most ownership rights of patents, copyrights and in contracts are only as good as the lawyers and amount of money backing them up. In this case the money is not an issue.

It could be the courts have made the point moot but in the mean time do you want to do battle against Bill Gates' money? The fact that he defied the orders of US courts to seperate windows from IE browser technology and has gotten away with it indicates he has little respect for the US government and in this case is more powerful.

   - guru - Friday, 03/02/07 10:20:39 EST

Job Openings: Laura, No specific place but our Hammer-In forum remains posted for one month before archiving.
   - guru - Friday, 03/02/07 10:23:54 EST

Mike Mc,
as thomas says you could choke your gas forge down a bit, venturis certainly can run too oxidizing. You might also think about going with a bit larger (#60, #59) orifice as in my experience #65 is a bit small for a 1" burner tube. You can run a larger gas jet on lower pressure,(10 - 15 P.S.I.) making the heat output and gas efficiency roughly equivalent to your old setup, and the reduced velocity of the fuel gas will probably draw your air in with a less oxidizing effect to your flame. My forge usually runs slightly carburizing (fuel rich) without any choking due to this configuration. Go to ron reil's burner site for all kinds of great tips on venturi burners.
   vorpal - Friday, 03/02/07 13:32:38 EST

Guru....Are you going to Madison this year? I went in 2005 and bought a little coal and a few old hammers.I'v really grown to enjoy Blacksmithing since then.I'v done a couple re-inactments for GA.State Parks and was thinking about joining the Ocmulgee Blacksmith Guild.The meetings seem to be pretty far from my house in Pembroke Ga.(30 miles west of Savannah).Do you know of any Blacksmiths or events closer to me? Also if I join the Ocmulgee Guild will I get in the Madison Conference at a discount price? Thanks for your time and for this site! I read most every night.
   ringer - Friday, 03/02/07 19:12:45 EST

ringer: Use the NAVIGATE Anvilfire box in the upper right and scroll down to the link to the ABANA affilitates. You can click on the red map to find groups by individual state.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Friday, 03/02/07 19:52:41 EST

Madison, Yes, Discounts, NO. This year they stoped discounting their fees. But it is very affordable as conferences go. In fact almost cheap compared to travel and meals. Its a 10-12 hour drive for me.
   - guru - Friday, 03/02/07 21:44:22 EST

Regarding aprons...just another opinion here but I use various combos of apron, welders jacket, gloves, spats and helmet with face shield depending on whether I am welding, forging or pouring metal. I am a fan of whatever protection is called for to do the work without having to worry as much about flame-ups or other skin mauling incidents! I do lean toward the minimal in most conditions though. And I often forge in a kilt so what could I REALLY know about safety?
   - firedog - Friday, 03/02/07 22:11:01 EST

Oh yea....I ALWAYS wear steel toed boots....even with the kilt!
   - firedog - Friday, 03/02/07 22:12:10 EST

Thanks Mr.Scharabok for the info. on the navigate Anvilfire box.Looks like I'm closer to a groop in Florida then I am to any groops in Georgia......Guru...Thanks also for the info.I hope to see you in Madison.
   ringer - Friday, 03/02/07 23:05:47 EST

ringer: Some groups have subgroups. I believe the Alabama one calls them Forges or Councils. Essentially designed for folks in an area of the state to get together without having a long drive to a single statewide meeting.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Saturday, 03/03/07 06:15:57 EST

Can anyone help me with my on site arc welding, im using a 2.5 mm electrode on 5mm mild steel joints and am having trouble getting the joint to bond. i have been mig and tig welding professionally for 10 years but have had very little arc welding experience .Any advice greatly appreciated
   Mark j - Saturday, 03/03/07 10:21:44 EST

Meeting other Smiths: As Ken pointed out, many groups move their meetings around to various shops. Even if you do not have a shop all you need is a forge for demos, tables for iron in the hat and some chairs. Occasionally the tables and chairs are rented and paid for by the group. A lot depends on the size of the group and character of the particular meeting.

TRAVEL is part of getting together with other blacksmiths. Even though there are maybe 10 to 15,000 amateur smiths in the US within any one group of 100 there may be a couple hundred miles. When I started smithing I had no contact with other smiths for many years, then when I did it was an expensive (for me at the time) 125 mile drive one-way. When you are driving 20 year old clunkers this is a big deal.

Today, even though I know thousands of smiths the nearest that are friends that I visit are still hours away. My best blacksmithing friend is now 5 hours away when in the country and a days flying time half the year when he is in Costa Rica. Even though I am currently in North Carolina and there are a couple smiths nearby those that I visit are 1.5 and 2.5 hours away. My brother and son are in Asheville but that is a 4.5 hour drive (up hill) and I only make it about once a year.

Those that live within less than an hour's drive of one or more smithing friends are very lucky. For the rest it means travel, sleeping in odd places (camping out, sleeping in the car, barn or shop). So you have a choice, travel or not.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/03/07 10:23:28 EST

Failed Welds: Mark, I have difficulties with MIG. . .

You did not say what type of rods, amperage, AC/DC or the metal condition. Depending on the rod the metal needs to be relatively clean. However, E6011 rods run on AC will burn through light paint and tight rust.

For the rod you are running (3/32") you should be running less than 90 Amps (probably about 70). Your rod should be angled about 30 to 40 degrees from vertical. Slag makes the puddle look larger than it is and 2x is about norm. Move slow enough to get a nice wide slag covered puddle but not so slow to melt through.

Some rods are AC/DC others AC or DC only. Be sure you have the right ones or right setting. I run strictly AC on my buzz box and use one of three rods. I use E6013 for general work, E6011 if I cannot clean the joint and E7024 is the work is flat and there is a large joint to fill.

Note that galvanizing will cause failed welds as well as make you very sick.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/03/07 11:00:46 EST

hows it goin well ive been fascinated wit wit blacksmithing swords pretty much everything before guns for my wholelife and i felt as no better way to be happy then to learn so ive been tryin to find schools or apprenticeship programs for blacksmithing, and swordsmithing and i was wonderin if u could help me out. thank u for your cooperation and have a good day.
   - ben - Saturday, 03/03/07 11:03:45 EST

More arc welding. . . Keep your arc as short as possible. With heavy slag rods this means the arc is almost buried. If you use a long arc you get low penetration and lots of sputter balls. When the arc is just right they say it sounds like frying bacon. . .
   - guru - Saturday, 03/03/07 11:04:26 EST

Ben, There are a ton of blacksmithing schools. SOME will teach some blade smithing but I know of none that teach swordsmithing. This is something you either teach yourself or learn from individuals.

Among the schools we often recommend is Frank Turley's in New Mexico (see our advertisers list OR the "guru's" link at the top of this page. Then there is the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. ABANA has a long list.

For a lot of this you need to buy books and self-study. See our book review page and sword making resources page for likely books and videos.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/03/07 11:12:38 EST

I think that perhaps the hardest part about arc is learning to actually see what you are looking at. Down in there at the center of the action, amid all the flash and spatter and smoke and sizzle, there is a puddle, and you have to learn to see it and manipulate it. If you don't, you will have burnt a hole through the work, or end up with an unacceptable joint instead of a lovely bead or fillet-- undercut, inclusions, etc. You MUST have the right shade lens in your helmet to be able to see the puddle amid all the fireworks. After that it's like how do you get to Carnegie Hall-- practice, man, practice. On scrap.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/03/07 11:16:21 EST

That is the big difference between TIG/MIG and ARC with flux covered rods, the first two are a clear view, the last takes close observation and looking deep into the arc through the smoke and sputter.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/03/07 12:50:34 EST

Yeah, but TIG is no picnic, either-- touch that tungsten electrode to the work just a micro-smidgeon and you are back at the grinder getting it all clean and pristine again. My welding teacher didn't call me Shakey for nothing. And with MIG one never really knows, do one? I bought a big hairy 250-amp Miller MIG in '98 and have used it maybe 20 minutes.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/03/07 13:25:40 EST

ive been using a cheap diy arc welder,140 amps, costing only £90, if i invest in a good, small portable lincoln inverter for around £600 will i see a dramatic improvment in the quality of my weldes or for small repairs etc will my diy arc welder produce an ok weld ?
   Mark j - Saturday, 03/03/07 14:49:55 EST

Mark, An AC buzz box is pretty much an AC buzz box. However, cheap cables, stingers and clamps can reduce their usefulness. Cheap ground clamps made from low quality battery jumper cable clamps are common and practically worthless. Good ground clamps are heavy cast or forged bronze. Cables that are too light often overheat and reduce the power at the work end.

AC/DC buzz boxes are more expensive but only have the advantage of the DC which is not an absolute necessity. The welds you are making should be fine with an AC buzz box.

Cheap 120VAC buzz boxes are limited in use and often have severe voltage drop off due to the wiring they are connected to. Even though they are 120VAC their amperage draw requires a special heavy duty circuit to run properly. If you plug them into a standard household circuit you will have a huge voltage drop and possibly overheated wiring and a fire safety issue.

Most small buzz boxes have some capacitors for arc stabilization. These circuits do not get better until you get into large industrial duty power supplies.

I would have to try your welder to know it it was the problem or not. However, I have found that with sufficient welding experiance and practice the welder and its settings mean very little. Its the WELDOR that is important.

NOTE: When I said I had trouble with MIG, I meant TIG. Most folks can MIG weld with their eyes closed. It is one reason I do not recommend MIG welders to start. You need to learn to weld with gas and a buzz box before going high tech. There are a lot of places and situations where MIG does not work.

   - guru - Saturday, 03/03/07 15:16:49 EST

I just received my new gas forge and proceeded to punch holes and dents into the insulation while heating a drawed-out piece. I had no idea this stuff was so fragile. The deepest puncture did not penetrate all the way to the back wall but it is still pretty deep. Does this need repair or are these forges more rugged than they look? Also, while I've got your ear, is boiled linseed oil safe to use around food. I'm making a potrack and was going to use olive oil to be on the safe side but I really like the look that linseed oil imparts on the forged steel. Thanks.
   - Robert Dean - Saturday, 03/03/07 19:16:24 EST

Mark j: Are you weaving at all? If you're getting penetration on one piece but not the other this might help.
   AwP - Saturday, 03/03/07 20:29:39 EST

Mark mentioned that he was looking at an inverter-based unit. These will provide DC. As I understand it, they rectify AC to DC, chop in into high frequency AC, run it through a small transformer, then rectify it to DC. The more expensive units include a second inverter to convert the DC output to AC at a usable frequency (I think the intermediate AC is too high frequency to weld with). Otherwise, they're DC only. Sounds like a lot of steps, but the payoff is a small but highly efficient HF transformer, so the welders can save copper, electricity, and weight.

Of course, if Mark's using DC-only rods, going to the inverter will make a big difference. But a new package of welding rods would be a much cheaper fix (grin). By the way, the pound signs in his post didn't display until I logged into CSI.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 03/03/07 20:48:43 EST

Howdy y'all, I've got a few questions concerning making an air hammer. I've already got the Kinyon plans from ABANA, and have been doing a lot of looking and reading on the internet. Today I came across Mr. Kinyon's "latest" air hammer, the one that has the cylinder pushing up and pulling down (and I think it was shown at the ABANA conference).
Aside from the "easy to build/align" look of the new design, in your opinions what are some of the pros and cons of using this design over the original one?
As far as the ram goes, will the heavy wall hollow tube impart sufficient force, or would a person be better off with a ram like the Phoenix Hammer?
And the spring, is there a specific set of dimensions that should be used, or could a section of automotive leaf spring be used?
I'm sure that I will ave more questions later on, based on the responses I get. Thank you in advance for any and all information that you can send my way. I really appreciate it.

Ian Wille
   Ian Wille - Saturday, 03/03/07 21:33:45 EST

An inverter welder will be smaller, lighter, require less amps from your electrical service (often as much as half- my 250 amp transformer machine needs a 100 amp breaker, while my 300 amp inverter only needs a 50 amp breaker) and an inverter will often give a cleaner, nicer weld- IF you already are a skilled welder.

But for occasional part time use, or a novice, an inverter machine is probably not worth the trouble. I do find my inverter machine gives nicer stick welds, but I have been stick welding since the mid 70's, and I can get a servicable weld with just about any machine.

Where the inverters shine is on site work, where lugging around a 60 pound machine beats the pants off my 400 lb old transformer syncrowave. And I find a DC inverter gives a REALLY NICE mig weld as well.

But the guru is right- learn to stick weld first, then, if jobs and money are there, step up to a tig, or a mig, as needed.
   - Ries - Saturday, 03/03/07 21:34:11 EST

On line shaft speed. I tend to find a speed/setting on a machine I like and then learn to adapt to it. I run my floor drill press at about 200 rpm as I need it that low for some jobs I do. Works very well and I don't have to keep changing the belt between step pulleys.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Saturday, 03/03/07 22:05:05 EST

Line Shaft Speed: From what I know of them 500-600 RPM was pretty common. If You turn too slowly the torque required to get the horsepower is pretty high, much faster and ballance & bearings become critical. Coincidentally this is darn close to the 540 RPM for tractor PTO shafts, probably for the same reasons.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/03/07 23:35:25 EST

Ian Willie: I will step out on the limb here, but I think You should first determine how heavy the anvil is going to be, then make the ram to work in the 10:1 to 15:1 range. Depending on what sort of guide system You use You might need length to the ram to keep it in the guides, so a really heavy section doesn't work out in that case.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/03/07 23:41:43 EST

Miles'es Mig: I think if You used that machine another 20 minutes You would have confidence in it. I suggest .035 E70S-6 wire and C25 [argon 75% CO2 25%] gas and dip transfer. If You are out of the wind and the work is halfway clean I don't see how You could go wrong.
   Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/03/07 23:51:25 EST

Mark J: Before spending the extra money try welding on a better quality buzz box and see if You can weld well enough with it. If You can't You need more practice. Is the 140 amp machine 230V ? If it isn't I doubt it will work well. Only the inverters are efficient enough to work well at 115V.
   Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/04/07 00:05:05 EST

Forge Walls: Robert, You did not say what type forge or wall. Some come with Kaowool blanket, some molded kaolin fibre, some insulating brick and some a combination.

The molded fibre wall it the most delicate. The Kaowool is soft but self healing if you don't snag it. However, it should be coated to prevent breakdown. The molded fibre can be repaired in various ways. I use ITC-100 and then fill the holes with scrap Kaowool.

Many of these small forges were designed for making horse shoes and are not large enough for anything other than short billets. However, with care you can do a lot but you must be aware not to keep poking at the walls.

Boiled linseed oil commonly has solvents and driers added to it and it is toxic. The best oil to put on eating utensils is mineral oil. It is non-organic and does not harbor bacteria like vegatable oil does. There are grades sold for internal use and are food safe.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 00:53:22 EST

Dave, I see what you mean about the length. Come Monday I am planning to pay a visit to the local drydock (I'm only 20 minutes from the Mississippi in SE Missouri, near Cape Girardeau) and see if I can srounge of some shafting from a towboat, and then make the ram to fit in the ram:anvil ratios, like you suggested. I do like the guide system of the Phoenix hammers, though, and may go with something like that. I'll prolly wait until i have the anvil material before I decide on anything pertaining to the guides. Thanks

Ian Wille
   Ian Wille - Sunday, 03/04/07 01:06:50 EST

Kinyon Hammer: Ian, I am not familiar with the new design. I cannot comment on a design I have not seen plans for and studied closely. Most of the air control systems push both ways. The only way to "pull" is with a vacuum like with a self contained hammer. These are generally far more complicated to built and can have severe control problems.

Hammers like the Phoenix use a reversed cylinder but the air "pushes" the piston both ways. Push or pull, it all depends on which end of the pole you think you are on. . . There IS a slight difference in power from one end to the other but there are lots of pros and cons on which way they should go.

The ram needs to be a certain weight and be stout enough to do the job. Most of the hollow ram designs are filling the ram with lead which is the wrong thing to do. There is absolutely no engineering reason to use lead for weight in a power hammer, treadle hammer or most other machines. Use steel for weight.

The late Bull Hammers designed by Tom Trosak of Phoenix hammers used a hollow ram with the cylinder inside the ram in order to make it compact and have the cylinder operating on the centerline of the ram. The heavy wall tubing and die mount was all that was needed for mass even though it had a large slot machined in the side of it for the air lines. These hollow rams rang and were noisy as hell.

Spring in an air hammer? If there is then the dimensions or source should be in the plans.

If someone has a design you do not understand then either build it exactly to plan including every part and every dimension. If you are going to design your own then study what is out there and do it and expect a lot of trial and error or R&D.

There are two schools of building your own machines. The junk yard seat of the pants system, OR following someone elses plan. Sometimes the seat of the pants system produces great equipment. Sometimes not, but then if you did it cheap you are not out much. Sometimes published plans are not as good as they could be but generally they are based on something that works. But if they call for XxYxZ sized material and you use something else, then you are on your own.

Even when I build with junk I make a fairly detailed drawing with dimensions of everything. Many folks do not.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 01:34:34 EST

how to weld a material that has qualities of a spring. i.e. a rod used in shuttleless looms winds and return to it original condition. it is broken. want to know how to weld it.
   haroonpuri - Sunday, 03/04/07 08:38:02 EST

Repairing a coil spring: haroonpuri, it is difficult to repair a spring because of the forces on it. In this case I would carefully weld the spring using a torch and try not to heat too much of it. I would use no filler rod. Cut a small section out at the break and use it to make the joint. I would let the heated part air cool then file to shape to match the rest of the spring. It is important not to have any place smaller than the rest of the spring.

DO NOT try to bend or re-shape the spring at this time. It will be very brittle and break. A thin spring will harden in the air without quenching in water.

After filing you will need to temper the weld area. The new bright clean area of the weld needs to be heated gently until it turns a dark blue. This should temper the spring to keep it from breaking. In this kind of spring more tempering is better than too little.

This MIGHT work. It depends on how much stress there is on the spring. If it does not work then you will need to find or make a new spring.

Good luck!
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 10:58:57 EST

"Kinyon Hammer: Ian, I am not familiar with the new design. I cannot comment on a design I have not seen plans for and studied closely. Most of the air control systems push both ways. The only way to "pull" is with a vacuum like with a self contained hammer. These are generally far more complicated to built and can have severe control problems."

Guru: On the SOF&A workshop hammer you saw at my shop last year, it appears the air cylinder lifts up the ram until a valve triggers a dead-weight drop. Did I miss something here?
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 03/04/07 10:07:02 EST

Guru, I apologze for using the incorrect terminology in my post. Mr. Kinyon's new design does indeed have a reversed cylinder, where the piston rod moves into the cylinder as the ram comes down to strike.

The spring/beam is used in this design actually makes it look like a helve hammer. The spring is connected to the rear of the main post via a shackle, then arcs over the top of the frame and is connected to the center of the ram tube, apparently with a bolt running through the ram and spring. The piston rod of the cylinder is then clamped onto the spring and the other end of the cylinder is attached to the frame BELOW the spring at a pivot point. Here's a picture of the new design from the ABANA Seattle Conference http://metalsmithinghowto.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=2 (Sorry if I did this wrong, I've never done a link here before). The basic operating principle of the machine seems relatively easy to understand (but perhaps I am missing something). It also supposedly makes the hammer use less air.

I agree with you that lead is a bad substitute for ram weight. I had't thought about the ringing, but I would like to avoid that as much as possible. I assume that a long solid bar of sufficient weight would cut down on the ringing?

I would love to have plans for this hammer, but I don't think that Mr. Kinyon has published them yet. The only thing I really have is a picture to go off of. I definitely plan on spending a lot of time at the drafting board, working out dimensions and making a machine that should work, at least on paper... and I am not a fraid to do the trial and error and R&D.

Speaking of R&D, does anyone have an email address for Ron Kinyon, or any kind of contact info for him? I'd like to talk to the man himeslf about this new design.

Thank you Guru for information

Ian Wille
   Ian Wille - Sunday, 03/04/07 10:36:16 EST

Spring Helve Air Hammer: Ian, I cannot tell details from this photo but it looks to have a lot of highly stressed bolts and pins. One thing I have learned from talking to Tom Trosak of Phoenix hammers is that bolts and pins are bad and on power hammers if it CAN be broken it WILL be broken.

The air hammer design I liked the best was original BULL. It was simple and compact and had the "pull down" feature you like. It had some design and manufacturing problems but I thought they could be cured. I've suggested to Tom several times to build them again but he is too involved building his indestructible hammers.

The great thing about this hammer was that it took up almost no space in your shop. It also does not waste a lot of steel on an overhead frame. If I was going to build an air hammer for myself, this is the one I would build.

The manufacturing problems of this machine (that I know of) was the guide system and the quality of the 2.5" structural tube material for the guide post. The anvil mass was a little light as all the fabricated hammers were at the time.

Another advantage of this machine (as well as the KA-hammers) is that you could move one with a hand truck.

Air Consumption: The more one focuses on this the less power their hammer will have. There IS an optimum cylinder size for an air hammer but the thing to remember is that these are a POWER hammer and that compressed air is very inefficient. It takes a lot of HP to run an air hammer. If you have too little compressor you will not get the expected performance, PERIOD.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 11:30:29 EST

What stainless steels are reasonable for stainless pattern welded steel? Is there any major difference in executing it compared to carbon steels?
   Victoria Moore - Sunday, 03/04/07 12:10:46 EST

Guru, I didn't think/consider about the stress put on the bolts. I will definitely keep that information in mind when I actually begin to design and build the hammer.

The design of the Bull does really appeal to me. It looks like a nice simple, clean design, and something that probably would not be too hard to fabricate. I actually had seen this design on the User Built hammer page in the form of Andrew Hooper's machine, and had considered it for some time. The biggest thing I dislike about this design is the shallow throat depth. But sacrifices sometimes must be made...

I am still looking for a large piece to use for the anvil (hopefully my visit to the local drydock/towboat repair yard will yeild something). One of my concerns with this design is if I use a large diameter shaft (say 7"-9" dia. if I am lucky), I will get an increase in throat depth, but that will also probably mean using spacers between the ram and the ram guide tube. Would a situation like that create a potential problem?

I'm also curious if the Bull operates like the KA-75 (which I have used and I must say that I like it) with no automatic cycling, or if this hammer desing can be set up to cycle when the treadle is depressed?

Thats all I can think of for now, but I'm sure that I will have more questions and thoughts later, especially when i locate a piece for the anvil.

Once again, thank you very much.
   Ian Wille - Sunday, 03/04/07 14:49:51 EST

No, The BULL was an automatic hammer. Not like the KA.

I'm looking at building one and using solid CF steel for the guide column instead of tubing. You can be assured of getting a better quality in solid finished than in drawn tubing.

Heavy anvil stock is often difficult to find. I have some but I paid dearly for it. One route to go is a bundle of rectangular bar caped with a heavy block. If the bundle is done right all the pieces are connected with outside straps and at the cap and base.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 15:14:02 EST

Stainless Steels: Victoria, The welding and forging properties of stainless steels are much different than carbon steels. To forge weld stainless you must use very agressive fluxes such as calcium flouide (98% CaF2, Flourite or Flourspar mineral powder).

To get a good difference in color most smiths use a carbon steel and a nickel steel or even pure nickel. I am not sure what two steels would be used to make an all stainless patterned steel. 304 and 440C maybe?
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 15:37:38 EST

Victoria: Damasteel is made from ATS-34 & 12C27 and is fully hardenable. Are you wanting something that is fully hardenable for tool or blade use or is something non-hardenable alright?
   AwP - Sunday, 03/04/07 18:33:26 EST

Guru, I did not realize that the BULL was an automatic hammer, though I suppose that would explain what looks like a connecting bar going from the ram to what I would guess is the valve area. Do you know how Tom had set up so that it would run automatically?

I think on my first hammer of this type, I will probably go with structural tubing, since this hammer will basically a R&D project for me. Also, I had been planning on welding up an anvil from 1x8" flat bar (vertically, of course) in case I can't find any anvil stock and the shipyard. I'll see what I can find tomorrow.

Thanks, Ian
   Ian Wille - Sunday, 03/04/07 16:42:44 EST

Guru, thanks for the replies. My new forge is a NC Tool forge and I guess it uses the molded fiber you spoke of. The warning label says it contains crystalline silica. I took your advise and used a little of scrap liner and just poked it into the hole and it seemed to work fine.
   - Robert Dean - Sunday, 03/04/07 17:47:47 EST

Bull Hammer Control: Ian, Tom designed his own control system and continues to do so. However, the machine could be run on the same system as the Kinyon or other machines using a reversing valve and a pilot switch. The pneumatic control switch would need to be on either a bracket next to the ram or on activated by a dog on a control rod.

bundled bar power hammer anvil design by Jock Dempsey On the welded anvil, You can use 4" wide bar to make an 8" square anvil, or 5" wide to make a 10" square anvil. Arrange the bar in groups of four as shown.

The straps welded around the anvil connect all the pieces as does the cap. This assures that the force going into the anvil is equally distributed. In this era of declining industrial resources in the U.S. this may become a more common method of building an anvil than using solid.

For this to make a good solid connection to the anvil cap the pieces should be accurately sawed nice and square. Then the whole stacked carefully and tacked together before doing the heavier welding. I recommend installing lifting points. You can easily stack up 20 pieces of 40 pounds each and end up with an 800 pound anvil that you cannot move on your own!
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 18:38:34 EST

Note that where I show an anvil cap large than the anvil above, a smaller one would work just as well. Welding all around ties it all together.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/04/07 18:52:13 EST

Dave Boyer-- thanks. I got the MIG in the first place because a friend said it would save me a lot of time with clean-up on a big guard rail with scads of pickets that I was making. Then I ran into heavy winds outside my shop, and put the machine aside to use stick. There it's been ever since. I plan to get back to it. ¡Manana! Meanwhile, I just like my 1971 DialArc a lot more. And oxy-acetylene where feasible. As for confidence, I have confidence in the mIG machine. Miller makes great equipment. I have heard, here and elsewhere, however, that it's possible to do MIG welds that look great but have no penetration to speak of. I have not run into that yet-- and hope I never do. Knock on wood.
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/04/07 20:48:24 EST

I'm totally new to this forum so please excuse me if I'm not responding correctly, but AwP responded to my question about stainless pattern welding...I am interested in different applications, I am a knife maker and a jeweler. This suggestion would be good for a knife it looks like, do you have a suggestion for non-tool applications too?
Also, just a note about your other discussions, I have this hammer made by Tom Trozak, i am quite pleased with it. is that company gone?
   Victoria Moore - Sunday, 03/04/07 23:11:49 EST

Miles: Your machine has enough power that You shouldn't have the no penetration problem EXCEPT if You try to do spray transfer over heavy mill scale. I always run sort of hot and put up with a little spatter, but no worries about penetration. Flux core with gas is used for a lot of outdoor work, or self shielded, but that defeats the reason You went to MIG... One of My friends has a DialArc HF [TIG machine], He had it in My shop untill He moved away and took it with Him. Great machine.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/05/07 00:47:50 EST

Haroonpuri: The problem with a weld repair is that the melted metal solidifies and forms a cast microstructure which is not as strong as the wrought microstructure of the rest of the spring. If the spring is lowly stressed this might not be a problem, but low stress springs seldom break. If this is a long torsion spring another method of repait is to insert the broken ends into a close fitting steel tube and braze the joint. Re tempering to a blue color is still neded. This is not a perfect repair either, as the streign will be absorbed over a shorter length, and the stress will be higher. Did the spring fail in normal operation, or was there an unusual ammount of force on it? If it failed in normal operation, I doubt that any repair will last long.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/05/07 00:59:27 EST

Did anyone see the "How It's Made" show where they did the armor? I'm just wondering if anyone knows what kind of power hammer he's using to do his forming with.

Also, Does anyone know a good source for Propane regulators/pressure guages. I'm starting to look at assembling a forge and would love to hear some recommendations.
   Frostfly - Monday, 03/05/07 01:47:54 EST

Frosty, I did not see the show you spoke of but plate workers use small planishing machines such as the Pettingell and Ted Banning has built his own JYH plannishing hammer. These machines typically have deep throats and hit very rappidly.

Two other machines used in this industry are the Pullmax and the English Wheel. The Pullmax is a Swedish machine with very deep throat mechanical machine that has a very short stroke but is very powerful. They are no longer produced from what I can determine except for some failed Chinese copies.

The English Wheel is not a hammer, it uses simple compression betweel roling wheels called hammer and anvil. The work is generally pushed through by hand but there have been large powered models built for shaping boat plates.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/07 09:13:28 EST

One more machine I forgot about is the air operated planishing hammer. These use a hand held air hammer mounted in a C frame. Normally the hammer floats and weight added to the back of it increases the force as needed. These are doubly noisy as you have the noise of the air hammer and the noise of pounding on sheet. . . Hearing protection is absolutely required.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/07 09:16:28 EST

Okay, one last time... I need to know if what I am doing is okay, ok? I used Muffler Mend to repair a few leaks in my micro forge. Is this okay? The product says its good for up to 1500 degrees. So far it hasn't crumbled or cracked. Is this good to use? If nobody knows for sure, that's cool, but this is the third time I've asked. If I am doing something that will lead to a catastrophic failure or my house burning down... well, I'd like to know.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 03/05/07 10:47:42 EST

HI Nipp,

Well, I don't know for certain but...

Think about it this way. I assume your micro forge is made of steel. Steel is pretty colorful at 1500 degrees (bright red? That is a total guess) right? So if your forge body is still not showing color (I think steel starts to show color at ~1000deg) then you should be OK as far as the repair goes.

What we cannot speculate on is any noxious fumes it may give off. It is made to be used on something that is expected to be operated outdoors only. Hence a small amount of fume emissions would not be a huge consideration in the design of the stuff.

That's my $0.02...

   Mike Berube - Monday, 03/05/07 11:55:11 EST

Nip, Sorry. . If it works it works. Gas Forges run 2500 to 2800°F inside but the exterior varies. They generally do not get much hotter than about 400°F on the exterior except around leaks. If you stopped the leak then the temperature is much lower. IF the leak starts again where the low temperature patch is then the patch will blow out quickly (the same happens on auto exhausts).

If the product is working then it is working. There should be no catastrophes from a small leak unless the forge is much too close to flammable materials. Many forges are a sieve of leaks but they are located where the jets of hot gas do no harm other than reduce the efficiency of the forge.

When I patch forges I use a wad of kaowool then coat with ITC-100 or 200. If the gap is pretty much closed with a high temperature refractory then the muffler seal should work. On the other hand I never had much luck with muffler seal and I have used dozens of types including the fiberglass type and many that had asbestoes (back in the good ole days).
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/07 11:56:08 EST

I have come across an anvil (haven't seen it in person yet) that was in a shop that burned.

Can an anvil be damaged in a fire and if so, is it worth fixing or better forgotten?

What and how would you check it to see if it is damaged?


   Too_Many_Tools - Monday, 03/05/07 12:24:39 EST

Thanks for the info Jock. The forge shell is made of an empty propane bottle (16 oz camping size), lined with 2" Kaowool and ITC-100.


I've only seen color at the door, and that's only when it's been running for a while. I normally would have used Kaowool and ITC for repairs but I'm plumb OUT of ITC (need to order some more). Yes, the leaks are/were at the nozzle mount areas. So far this stuff seems to work in a pinch, but my main concern is long term use and its effect on general forging temps and safety. Only time will tell. It's holding up nicely, Ive run the forge with the repairs about a dozen times. When I first ran the forge with the repair there was a little bit of smoke/steam, but I think that's part of the curing process because since it's hardened there's nothing but the standard dragons breath.
   - Nippulini - Monday, 03/05/07 12:26:36 EST

Anvil in Fire: TMT, It depends on the anvil and the fire. In large wooden building fires the heat and time is sufficient to anneal an anvil (worse case). This would happen if the fire burried the anvil in coals and they had time to cool over a period of hours.

If the anvil was just in a brief fire there may be no damage but if it was heated to 600&%176;F or more then it would be tempered softer than an anvil should be.

If the anvil was in a very hot fire and the fire department hosed it down then there may be hard and soft places, possibly even cracks.

Cost of proper heat treatment is quite high (charged by the pound). Unless the anvil was a very good make AND you got it for little or nothing then it would not be economical to reharden.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/07 13:10:56 EST

does anyone know what 8018 welding rods are used for? and what they harden to ?

im getting my anivl refaced at a welding shop, and they said they only can do it with 8018 , is this sufficient?

   Cameron - Monday, 03/05/07 14:48:14 EST

Cameron, The 80 is the tensile strength of the rod in PSI. Standard rods are 60 series like E6013 and many high strength applications call for a 70 series rod like E7024. Rods go up up to 100 series.

E8018 deposits 2% Ni weld metal.

The strength of the rod is determined by the extra carbon and manganese that comes from the rod coating (all rods are the same material except SS and some specialty rods).

While this is a high strength rod it is not particularly hard.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/07 15:13:08 EST

TMT-- What I'd do with that fire sale anvil is take a piece of non-tool (cold is okay, red hot or hotter would be ideal and a must if it's tool steel)steel and smack it good and hard with a 2-pound hammer a number of times at various places on the face and horn. If the horn or heel crack of fall off, or if you see really bad dents, there is a problem. But even with slight dents, if the price is right-- junk steel price here in Santa Fe is a penny a pound to the seller-- go for it. It'll be useful. If the owner won't allow such a test, forget it.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/05/07 15:38:42 EST

Does anyone know of a good week long blacksmithing program during the summer (Early June-Late July) that a 16 year-old could go to?
   - Hollon - Monday, 03/05/07 17:01:13 EST

Hollon, IT depends on how far you want to travel and what you can afford AND what your focus is.

Frank Turley's in New Mexico has three week and six day classes.

John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina has a varied program.

In Western Canada this is the year for CanIron VI. While this is not a school you could learn a LOT there.

The the Power Hammer School, also in North Carolina has intensive sessions that will teach you how metal really MOVES. While it is not hand forging it does teach a lot and expands one's horizons.

Check our Schedule of Events page for organizational events and various school schedules. Check our ABANA-Chapter.com page for organizations near you and the ABANA.org page for a list of schools.
   - guru - Monday, 03/05/07 17:48:13 EST

Guru, if a shop is rewelding the anvil,, it should be good right?

what woudl be a good rod for such a job, i have a peter wright 150 lb anvil, with bowing in the face, and very very obliterated edges,
aside from hard facing rods, what are some good rods to use?

   Cameron - Monday, 03/05/07 19:41:39 EST

Cam; if they are experienced in re-welding anvils. If not it's a toss up. Would you take an airplane piece that needed to be re-welded to a shop that specialized in auto body welding and expect it to meet aircraft criteria?

Most welding shops do not know anything about anvils/wrought iron/tool steel all mixed together.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/05/07 20:17:53 EST


Is it an anvil maker or a welding shop? Welding shops usually know about welding, but most know little or nothing about anvils. In some cases, the misinformation they have is worse than knowing nothing. You pay your money and you take your chances.

Welding on an anvil is a chancy thing, even when done by someone very knowledgable and experienced. There are a LOT of variables, and the type of rod is the very least of them. For most minor ding-filling, I use standard MIG wire and it works fine. Of course, I generally hit only hot steel with my hammer, and not the anvil. As long as you do that, almost any filler will do, EXCEPT hard-facing rod. It is a poor choice for any repair, as it is made to be abrasion-resistant and NOT dent-resistant. This means you will spend a bunch of extra money for something that will be a huge pain in the butt to grind back off, but won't gain you any hardness at all.

For a sway-backed anvil, I wouldn't bother welding on it at all. An anvil does NOT need to be perfectly flat. Dings and dents I would probably fill, as they mar your work. Edges that are chipped off badly are that way because the face was most likely too hard to start with and was also probably abused. The corners are where missed blows most often happen, so you don't want them too hard, anyway. For corner build-up, 6013 or 7013 will work fine. 8018 is a horizontal-only rod, with a slow freeze time to get a pretty weld bead. The 80kpsi tensile strength is no factor in this; what tensile stress is an anvil subject to, after all?

Personally, I wouldn't spend the money that a welding shop would charge to repair a trashed anvil. Keep your eyes open for a better used one. If the anvil isn't totally trashed, you can probably just grind the edges back (from the sides - it narrows the face a bit, but saves the top plate thickness) some and radius them, and live with the sway. Use it to make some money and then buy the anvil of your choice.
   vicopper - Monday, 03/05/07 20:40:43 EST

I would like to forward the following to your readers (pardon me if this is against your guidelines):

For sale or lease in the US Virgin Islands : Established heavy sheet-metal fabrication facility with continuing market growth in local industry and surrounding islands, with tax exempt programs for qualified businesses. The owner is stepping back and either selling or leasing the whole warehouse/property to someone with an artistic industrial flare. it's a turn-key operation, has an established business and gallery/mailing list. Call 340-514-6664 or e-mail director@salt-gallery.com for more info.

[Feel free to forward this to someone in the metal working industry or the artistic community who needs a little sun.]

Many thanks,
Tomas Lanner
   Tomas Lanner - Monday, 03/05/07 22:18:59 EST

VI copper: Looks like an opportunity for a retired cop is opening up in Your neck of the woods.
   Dave Boyer - Monday, 03/05/07 23:51:11 EST

Anvil welding, cameron, originally I think you said they knew all about it. Then they/you want to know what kind of rod to use?

99.9% of anvils folks THINK need repairing do not. Cosmetic damage, a slight sway. . . are all part of old anvils. It makes them no less useful and the "repairs" will not make one's work better.

Anvils ARE NOT a precision flat for measuring, reference or honing. They are a WORK surface for forging. A slight sway is actually beneficial, corners on most anvils are way too sharp and dressing the chips to round usually get the anvil to the shape it SHOULD have been.

Most of what is wrong with most anvils can be fixed with light grinding or even filing.

Did the welding shop quote grinding down the mess they make? It is common practice that weld shops weld and machine shops dress the repaired surface. Grinding by hand can take many hours and if the surface is soft enough to machine with anything less than a BIG industrial mill using expensive carbide cutters then the repair isn't hard enough. . .

I have a couple good anvils with some minor dings. But I also have a several very old anvils with missing horns, broken faces and one that is WORN THROUGH the face. They all work just as well for forging as the other. About the only thing I miss is the horn on those that are broken. And even THAT has a work around.

Spend your money on other tools and spend the time using that old anvil. You may come to appreciate some of its "features".
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/06/07 00:18:59 EST

Schools with weeklong blacksmith classes - also add Touchstone Center for Crafts in Western PA, near Uniontown, Pa. A number of smiths offer weekend and week long classes at this site. It has a nice forge shop setup in its own building. The emphasis is usually on coal fired forging. Good folks and good classes. Among smiths that have instructed are Jymm Hoffman and Kim Thomas. If you do a search on Google, or go www.touchstonecrafts.com you can access their 2007 schedule.
   - Gavainh - Tuesday, 03/06/07 00:54:32 EST

The welding shop was going to do it for free... its a friend of mines fathers, but,
i think im just going to grind down away at the sides a bit, to get nice radiused edges, then, work with what i have, currently, its a beauty to work on, except for the edges , and, you can hit it as hard as you please with a hammer, and it wont dent, or , hasnt yet,
overall nice anvil, i just thought that if it got refaced, it owuld be like , a perfect anvil or something, i dunno,

thanks all, for keeping me from making a mistake i would probably always regret,
   Cameron - Tuesday, 03/06/07 02:05:09 EST

I received a request for the organizers of Mules Days in Columbia, TN. This is one of the largest type events in TN and routinely draws over 200K during it. They are looking for one or more blacksmiths to set up in their primitate arts & crafts area to hopefully demonstrate and sell their hand-forged wares. Does anyone know of a buckskinning forum on which I can post a notice? Event will be April 12-15. Contact point is Jerry Irwin, 931-486-9894 (home) or 931-381-9557 (event office).
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 03/06/07 07:44:35 EST

8018 is all position.
   - Donnie - Tuesday, 03/06/07 07:50:09 EST

Cameron; get the welding folk to make you a hardy insert that goes edge to edge and has good sharp corners so you can just pop that in when you need a sharper edge---Actually I would get it a square and do small radii of different sizes on all 4 edges and then just stick it in the way that puts the one you need at the edge youi are working on.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/06/07 11:27:06 EST

Looking for suggestings on purchasing a new anvil. I value my time enough to realize that looking for something used is a waste. Any suggestions on the current offerings.

Euroanvil? I only get a answering machine. They are close enough to drive and p/u the anvil. I could put dollars I spend in shipping on more weight.

Kayne and sons is offering a TFS smithy special.

Old world anvils?


   ChrisB - Tuesday, 03/06/07 14:30:56 EST

Greetings all, I was hoping some one could point me in the right direction. I am looking for a book or other source one the subject of pattern welding "patterns" of the European Middle Ages. Particularly in the area of Anglo-Saxon pattern welded knives. Any suggestions?
   Jed - Tuesday, 03/06/07 14:32:43 EST

Chris B.
I am not a representative of either of these companies, but you might also check out Rathole Forge and Nimba. Those are the two that I am looking at (scrimping and saving change for) right now.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 03/06/07 14:45:51 EST

Anvil Selections: Chris, John Elliot works full time during the day and operates the blacksmith supply at night and on weekends. It is a full time/part time business. If he has the anvil you want in stock he would gladly let you pick it up at his place in Chester, VA. He also does a lot of blacksmiths meets and was last at the Boone Hammer-In in Louisa, VA.

The anvil Kayne and Son is selling is a good anvil but a slightly unique style. You get a lot of working surface for the weight. They are also made in the USA. The Kaynes are near Asheville, NC. A long uphill drive but not out of a days driving distance from much of VA depending on where you are.

Both anvils are roughly equivalent in manufacture. The TFS is probably a better casting but the Euroanvil is less per dollar (last I looked). Which one you go with is a decsion you will have to make. Both will do the job for you.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/06/07 15:14:23 EST

Thanks Guru

I'm in Maryland, Asheville is a 8hr hike for me.
   ChrisB - Tuesday, 03/06/07 15:35:08 EST

Chris B,

I'd recommend the Nimba or the Rathole, myself. I've never tried the Rathole anvil, but the Nimba is a real delight to work with. I have the 450# Gladiator, and it will do all that I ever need an anvil to do.

Ther TFS anvil does, as Guru says, give yo a lot of working surface for the weight. But...the total surface area you're working at any one time is exactly what is under your hammer, no more. What you really need is MASS under the hammer, and the Nimba offers that in spades. The 7" wide face is just a bonus, it's the 13" by 10" by 12" block of steel under the hammer that makes the metal move.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/06/07 16:12:01 EST

V.I. Opportunity:

Not for me, Dave! Mike, the guy selling his hsop, is a friend of mine, and I see how hard he works just to kee up. He does have some nice welding equipment and a right hefty press brake and a Mubea ironworker, but they all stay busydoing fabricated commercial stuff. Not exactly my cup of tea, dontcha know? Besides, I want to be really retired, not just change occupations. For a few weeks, at least. (grin)
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/06/07 16:16:00 EST

ChrisB, I have the 175 Euroanvil and have been very pleased with it. Once I ground the edges to the proper radius I haven't put a single ding in it with over 2 years worth of use. If my shop was on fire, that anvil is the first thing I would drag out.
   ChrisB - Tuesday, 03/06/07 16:24:38 EST

I live in Kentucky, and I had been thinking about John C. Campbell since it was the closest that I had heard of, but don't you have to be 18 to participate in one of their programs?
   - Hollon - Tuesday, 03/06/07 16:28:05 EST

Looking for a scroll bender for 1/2 inch round copper bar to scroll up to 24 " scrolls...tight spiral. Prefer powered, but anything that will work for production.
Any sources appreciated.
Joan in Oregon
   - joan emm - Tuesday, 03/06/07 16:38:03 EST

I read a bit ago that there was a question on stainless damascus. Bertie Rietvelf of South Africa makes stock for his knoves and offers some for sale at his website: http://www.rietveldknives.com/Damascus%20Steel.htm
He does not say much on how he makes it, but maybe this site is a place to get started.
Bob Johnson
Coupeville, WA
   woodenewe - Tuesday, 03/06/07 17:33:26 EST

Oops, Bertie Rietveld
   woodenewe - Tuesday, 03/06/07 17:34:17 EST

Pattern welding in knives for the Anglo Saxons is not covered in a single book by any means. I have some journal print outs on seax finds I'll try to dig up some cites on. Also May I commend to your attention "Early Ferrous Edge Tools and Edged Weapons", Tylecote and Gilmour, "The Sword in Anglo Saxon England" Davidson and the Museum of London's "Knives and Scabbards"; Shoot almost forgot Scott Langton's monograph on his replication of the Sutton Hoo sword.

Manfred Sachse's book "Damascus Steel" has a little high level overview.

Some of these are more to bracket the time and place and you may have to interpolate a bit.

Note that pattern welding was not as common in knives though sometimes used as ornamentation. More common was welding a steel edge onto a WI knife and there is a range of methods of doing so. (There is a relic dealer at Estrella that had a very good example of such a knife I got to see, very evident where the steeled edge was applied, (www.medievalwares.com is his site but I don't see the one I am referring to)

Atli; suggestions from your side?

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/06/07 17:57:31 EST

Looking for a scroll bender or scroll forming machine for a production job with 3/16 copper tubing and scrolls up to 24".
Any ideas where to look. Professional metal shop, but have not had to make production scrolls like this before.
Joan from Morrisonn Studios
   - joan emm - Tuesday, 03/06/07 19:06:44 EST

Chris B:

Also check out the anvils sold by Centaur Forge and Pieh Tools Co. (Anvilfire advertisers). In the last catalog I have Centaur has a 260 Lb JHM Competitor (single horn) for $725.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 03/06/07 19:24:11 EST

Copper tubing scrolls,
Is this soft copper tubing ? The stuff common in HVAC etc?
3/16" is so easy to form by hand, I might suggest making a plywood form then simply form in the scrolls by hand. Of course me not knowing how complex your scrolls are adds to the dillema...
You said 'production' does that mean several hundred parts per day ? OK sorry, The plywood jig will be a bit slow for that. But anything automated is going to require thousands maybe 100s of thousands of units to be cost effective.
   - Sven - Tuesday, 03/06/07 19:47:13 EST

Centaur Froge online shows 260 lb JHM Competitor for $1064.00
   Mike Broach - Tuesday, 03/06/07 21:04:34 EST

O0ps - re-posting here! It is copper BAR not tube - sorry. Looking for a SCROLL bender or scroll forming machine for a production job with 1/2
   - joan emm - Tuesday, 03/06/07 22:46:27 EST

ARRGH. Ok I try again. Need to find a scroll forming machine or scroll bender for a production job using 1/2 " copper BAR to make scrolls of various sizes up to 24" Getting a bit desperate for finding this.
Thanks so much,
Joan in Oregon
   - joan emm - Tuesday, 03/06/07 22:51:25 EST


Try these folks, if you want a true production machine:


Be advised, you're looking at ten grand and up for a good powered bending machine, so you had better have the job tu justify it. If not, then look at a Hossfeld bender and scroll jigs for it. You can get into the Hossfeld for about a grand and have a good, solid, production-quality manual machine.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/06/07 23:12:43 EST

Why does a blacksmith strike the anvil after the work????
   Cliff - Tuesday, 03/06/07 23:31:56 EST

Production Scrolls: Joan, the problem is your original statement. "1/2 inch round 24" tight spiral". A tight spiral indicates more than one revolution. This creates overlap which requires special hinged sections OR progressive dies (step one, change dies, step two. . .). The machines I know of one the market do not come with dies to meet this situation if you have more than one ovelap (a large tight spiral would). You start with a machine then make dies OR pay a tool and die shop to engineer and make them. There are a number of machines cheaper than the Hebo that will do the job but you are going to need custom dies. If you go two stage I would buy two cheaper simpler machines, one for each stage as die changes are expensive, even in batches.

THEN comes the "production" statement. This is a loaded word. Do you need hundreds or thousands (per DAY)? A production machine will crank out bent parts at rates of over 100 per hour (depending on the operator - 200 per hour is easy). So in an 8 hour day a production machine will make 1,000 parts or so. It is likely to take as long to cut and debur that many blanks. . .

Classic Iron Supply makes an economical machine called the Ram Scroll Bender. It is stated to be a "high production" machine. Says 240 scrolls per hour. 1-800-367-2633.

Then there is the FSB-T2 sold by carellcorp.com. It is more of a multi-purpose machine which may be a better buy for you. They will bend 1" bar into a spiral cold.

The Hebo and the other electronically controlled German machines start at around $20,000 and you can spend double that with tooling and accessories. And after all that you will still have to make custom tooling to do spec work.

If you only need say a couple hundred a day they can be made on the same tooling operated manually. See our benders article for ideas.

To be more specific I would have to see a drawing of the scroll.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/06/07 23:52:26 EST

Striking the anvil: Cliff, Not all smiths do. Some say it is a bad habit others use it to keep their rhythm. Some even say it is the ringing of the smiths cash register. . .

The way you see smiths strike the anvil in movies (tap, ting ting, tap ting ting) is a stupid moronic thing that actors are directed to do by directors that have never used a hammer in their life other than to crack crab shells.

A working smith that is hand forging will bounce the hammer off the anvil occasionally when they rotate the work and need to look at it closely OR think a fraction of a second about it then go back to forging. This helps keep their rhythm.

As the day gets long the bounces may come more often because the hard steel hammer bounces of the hard tool steel anvil like a rubber ball. So this requires little effort and is a way to keep moving yet rest. However, the bounces are usually never more than one out of four or five blows. If a smith is this tired it is time to quit. If the smith is striking the anvil once with every one or two blows they are not a smith, they are a BAD actor pretending to be a smith.

One of the worse cases of this I have seen recently is in the movie "A Knights Tale". The young woman playing the smith was very good but some idiot taught here to go "tap, ting ting". . . meanwhile there was a half dozen REAL smiths as extras on the film that could have taught both the actress AND the director how a smith works. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 03/07/07 00:10:32 EST

Jed; Pattern Welding Patterns:

Ian Peirce’s Swords of the Viking Age ( (c) 2002; ISBN 0 85115 914 1; LoC U854.P45 2002) has some good examples, and most are pinned to specific weapons and time periods.

Jim Hrisoulas’s The Pattern Welded Blade (Artistry in Iron) ( (c) 1994; ISBN 0-87364-773-4) also has a number of patterns that he has developed in duplicating medieval techniques/weaponry.

A very useful book showing the very wide variety of knives and methods of construction is: Anglo-Scandinavian Ironwork from Coppergate by Patrick Ottaway (© 1992, York Archaeological Trust for Excavation and Research; published by the Council for British Archaeology, 112 Kensington Road, London SE11 6RE, England; ISBN 1 872414 29 X). Over 103 knives (including several folders) are shown, as well as shears, pins, spoons and every other ferrous odd or end that was dropped into the mud, misplaced or hidden in that part of Jorvik.

Beyond that you pretty much have to pry them out from various sources, such as archeological reports and such, as you happen upon them.

I will say that, in general, the patterns for knives are simpler and not as flamboyant as those for swords, and are usually located up towards the back spine rather than near the cutting edge, either as an integral element or, sometimes, as an apparent applique.

Your reality may vary, especially with further research. :-)

Cold and with high misty/icy clouds as we wait for the snow on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/07/07 00:14:12 EST

A buddy of mine who "claimed" to have been apprenticed as a blacksmith was over my house a while ago. So, we go into the cellar to do a little forging. I let him be the striker while I held some hot coil spring to be flattened out for a knife blank. I got SO upset at him (kept my lip) because he was striking the anvil every OTHER strike to the piece! Now, my anvil is over 150 years old. It really pissed me off, not only because he was wasting valuable heat and striking energy, but I really was afraid he was going to wreck my anvil.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/07/07 09:18:02 EST

Strikers: The striker NEVER strikes the anvil. OF course if YOU were striking the anvil while he was striking then he may have thought you were signaling him to strike the anvil. . Often this is the signal to quit but normally is the signal to be ready. The striker is supposed to hit the work only where you signal with a "small" hammer and proportionate to your blows.

While in Costa Rica Josh Greenwood and I demonstrated striking for the smiths at Johan Cubillos' shop. Josh was demonstrating proper form, so I picked up a piece of metal (a hammer can never be found when you need it) and struck the practice wood at varying rates, locations and strength. Josh followed along with the sledge perfectly (much better than I could). I think the workers were amazed at how much communication there was without words.

Strikers with sledges are how many old anvils got big chips taken out of the edges and how small anvils got swayed. I suspect this was the result of drafting whoever was standing around to be a striker as needed.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/07/07 10:02:21 EST

My Hebo "ONLY" cost me about 13 grand, with freight and customs- but that was without the scroll head, which was another 5.
But comparing a hebo to a ram bender is like comparing a bicycle to a semi. A ram bender will do one thing, in small stock, and thats it. A hebo is like the ultimate swiss army knife of fabrication tools, built like a tank, and controllable to one degree of rotation. And priced accordingly. They do make stand alone scroll machines, for under 20k.

However, since Joan is in Oregon, she is in luck. Robert Rayson, who is the US rep for Hebo, lives just outside of Portland, and has a good 200k worth of german cnc ornamental equipment in his shop, and he does piece work for people. So it is probably a lot cheaper to just pay him to bend your scrolls, on his cnc machine- I know on my hebo, even if we have to heat the tips in the forge, a hundred a day is no problem- totally cold, probably double or triple that, depending on size.

Call Robert at www.usahebo.com and ask him.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/07/07 10:09:14 EST


There are many methods and signaling systems. When I was learning, I didn't have a teacher for striking, so I used as a model the method shown in the video, "Hammer Man", put out by the Williamsburg Foundation. Soon afterward, a Dane named Harry Jensen helped me with my stance.

The smith and striker normally trade blows when "double striking", but the striker has a sledge, so he or she is hitting proportionably harder than the smith. There is a slight pull-back after hitting the work. Beginners sometimes don't pull back and lose rhythm as well, thereby causing the hand hammer and sledge to bang into each other. Not good.

The rhythm is metronomic, not iambic.

If the smith holds a top tool, the striker sets his own rhythm and force, based upon his experience. It is not necessary to have the "pull-back" when striking a top tool.

In the Western world, the striker's sledge haft is shorter than a store bought one, usually about 20" to 24" in length.

If the smith and striker have worked together for some time, there will be hardly any talking.

Uri Hofi has the striker touch the anvil horn with the hammer to set rhythm and also when he turns the workpiece, but his striker is NOT HITTING the anvil with force.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/07/07 11:12:58 EST

joan emm-- I would try building a jig-- studs or curved flanges welded onto a piece of steel plate at the proper points on the curve-- and then bending the copper bar by hand. Copper is pretty soft stuff. If it's too stiff cold, some judicious heating would probably soften it enough for it to bend easily. I have bent up to 1/2 x 2-inch steel bar the hard way-- and lots of it-- in this fashion and if it works for steel....
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 03/07/07 11:13:08 EST

I watched a show in the History channel on ancient chinese discoveries.When they got to their metal working secrets I could not believe what they were saying."The steel was forged in a high heat funace then taken out and beaten to harden it then quenched in water in a process called tempering.This was repeated over and over till the blade was extremely sharp and very hard and flexible."
UUHG no wonder the myths about forging are always propagating.
   chris makin - Wednesday, 03/07/07 14:24:25 EST

I dont know what a Ram bender goes for these days, but my guess is its close to 5 grand. Hebo makes a scroll only machine, last price I saw, a couple years ago, was 7000 euros, its probably more than that now. That includes 3 multi segment scroll dies, although a 24" diameter one would be extra. Hebo is setup to make multisegment scroll dies on their cnc mills, and they run between $500 and $1000, and are the best dies on the market bar none. Very well thought out, machined and heat treated. They have over 30 standard patterns, and will custom make anything you want.
One could, theoretically, build your own power head and buy Hebo dies- But they work best with a magnetically braked high torque high horsepower setup, and all the parts need to be pretty hefty- by the time you bought all the parts, and did all the machining, you might just be better off to buy their machine.

A 24" diameter scroll takes most of a 12 footer. 1/2" round copper is running at least 4 bucks a pound, making that about 40 bucks minimum, materials only, for a scroll that big.

Me, I wouldnt be doing work like that for less than 5 times materials, and probably more. So if you are really talking about a lot of em, say a couple hundred, then we would be talking about a job that was in the $40,000 to $60,000 range. For a job like that, I would have no problem slipping in a ten thousand dollar machine, especially if I thought I would use it again.
Of course, I already have. And I am currently using it on a job that is more like $150k, and features 600 scrolls.

When you are doing work like that, the seeming high price of a machine like a Hebo is a big bargain- especially so you and your helpers can concentrate on the stuff that really shows, and really matters. I tend to hand tweak each scroll- I am about 3/4 of the way thru the 600- making each one look its best, and each slightly different from the others.
But the difference in time between hand bending 600 scrolls, and machine bending them and then fine tuning them is probably about 2 months work.

And the old back aint what it used to be- 2 months of hand bending scrolls is using up valuable mileage, and this old boy doesnt have unlimited miles to spare.

For one scroll, or 5, I usually bend em by eye on the hossfeld bender- and sure, it works great, fast, and cold.

But if its a paying job, and its really "production" then there is no excuse not to use the best tool for the job, especially if it will save man-months of time, and end up costing less in the long run.

Spoken, of course, from the viewpoint of someone who thinks you can never have too many tools, or that there is anything wrong with using a $10,000 tool to make one $5 part.
   - Ries - Wednesday, 03/07/07 17:02:45 EST

Ries, I agree with you completely. The problem is the question and definition of production. It IS nice to have that $10,000 machine to make a $5 part but somewhere along the line you've got to make 4,000 of those part to pay for the machine. Or 1,000 $40 parts. . . depending on your markup and profit.

However, if you are not in a REAL time crunch you can make a thousand parts in a few days on simple tooling.

If you don't have the cash and the demand it is amazing what you can do with some imaginative hand powered, hand made tooling. But if you have the work machinery IS cheap. Even that hand made tooling needs to be charged to the job at full rate.

Where folks get into trouble is not having enough profit in the job. No matter what size the job you have to make the same daily rate and charge the same for many services.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/07/07 17:36:19 EST

Howdy again, Guru and all. I went to the local dry dock/ shipyard today and found a wonderful piece of steel to use for my power hammer anvil- 11.5" diameter by 30 inches long, just some scrap they had from a big job- for a price of $332.00, which will only cost me roughly $30 more than just the base price of the metal for welding up my own anvil, so I think I'll go with the shaft.

What kind of hammer design I'm going to go with is another story...
   Ian Wille - Wednesday, 03/07/07 19:09:12 EST

A few years ago I found a description of a "Micro Forge". I checked your plans page and didn't see one. I may have over looked it. If so please excuse me. I'll look again. The description I had was that it is simply a soup can with both ends knocked out. There is a hole in the side where a torch head is inserted. I know this is just for very small items but I'm doing some detail work that is wasteful of gas. Will one of these things work with map gas? Do you need a special torch head? Any recommendations on how to mount one of these so that it doesn't get knocked around?
   Will - Wednesday, 03/07/07 20:23:02 EST

Joan Emm,

I can make you a hand scroll forming tool, but we need a dialog in order to figure out exactly what you want.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/07/07 22:55:29 EST

Will: Nippulini is the guy to ask, He is using something similar to what You described.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/07/07 23:21:40 EST

Ian Willie: sounds like You have an 882# chunk of steel if I figured right, that is a good start.
   Dave Boyer - Wednesday, 03/07/07 23:28:11 EST


Yep, that pretty much describes the mocro forge, with a couple of notations. First, use a bean can, and not a soup can. We simply must adhere to tradition, right? Actually, a #10 bean can gives you room for two layers of 1" Kaowool and yields a chamber about 2" diameter. A MAPP torch will get it to welding heat in short order, if yo coat the Kaowool with ITC-100. Don't cut the whole bottom out; just cut a 2"diameter hole so long stock can pas sthrough. If not using the hole, plug it with a piece of scrap Kaowool.

Secondly, but more importantly, the torch head is aimed at the hole in the side, but does NOT go through the hole. If yo poke the torch head in the hole, it will simply melt pretty quickly.

Mapp gas is fine, and develops more heat than propane. It works better in a torchh that is designed for MAPP, but it will work in a propane torch. There is one particular Bernz-o-matic torch designed for MAPP that works well with a bean can forge.

All the materials for the forge itself are available through the Anvilfire Store, except for the bean can and the torch. If you give Jock a few days notice, he can probably provide the bean can as well, if you ask nicely. (grin)

For mounting, the easiest thing is to bend up a piece of 1/8" by 1" flat bar to make a "U" shape and screw one side down to the bench top. The other side you place the bean can on and secure it in place with a stainless steel hose clamp. Gauge the width of your U-bracktet so that the bean can is the right height off the benchtop to put the fire hole even with the torch head when the torch is mounted on one of the shorter, fatter propane cylinders. There you go, stable and secure at little or no cost. If you want to be fancy, you can make the leg of the U the bean can is clamped to a bit longer so it sticks out in front of the can 6" or so and can be bent up to make a "third hand" to hold longer stock.

Want really fancy? Use a stainless steel cannister for the forge body. About a buck at your local flea market. The lid can be used to close up the front to keep mice out when not in use. If you plan to do any forge welding in this little gem, you'd better line the floor, at least, with Satanite or castable refractory to resist the flux. Kaowool dissolves in flux like cotton candy in hot water.
   vicopper - Wednesday, 03/07/07 23:44:47 EST

If the guru's have time, I've been trying to find a good stainless alloy for springs. My shop foreman said 316, but he's an out of practice tinbasher. Anyone have some suggestions they'd be willing to share?

   - SunDog - Wednesday, 03/07/07 23:51:42 EST

Micro Forge is listed on the Gas Forges page on our FAQs page.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/08/07 00:21:33 EST

Stainless Springs: Non heat treated stainless spring wire is made of a variety of alloys including 304 and 316. The springiness is slightly more than steel without heat treatment and makes fine low performance springs.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/08/07 00:23:56 EST

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