WELCOME to the anvilfire Guru's Den - V. 3.3

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

This is an archive of posts from March 16 - 22, 2007 on the Guru's Den
[ THE - GURUS | ABOUT THIS PAGE | Getting Started in Blacksmithing ]

Mike, We have a plan for a lever type on our iForge page (see fullering tool). Then Blacksmiths Journal sells the "smithing magician" kits. they are a good durable tool that are made better than you are likely to from scratch.
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/07 00:58:38 EST

Ok. I've been posting a lot of questions reguarding the forge I'm hopefully going to acutally have built someday. The burner is built, I'm waiting on a blower yet. I have a shell for the forge and will have it ready to go as soon as I can get the innards. I'm to the point where I can start pulling random ideas and seeing if i want to try them. So random idea. What happens if I "squish" the pipe i'm using and make an oval shaped chamber. So I end up with a bit more side to side space and a bit less height. are there any reasons for me Not to do this? has anyone tried it?
   Frostfly - Friday, 03/16/07 02:40:58 EST

Frostfly: You would end up with the same internal cubic inches so it should affect the performance of the forge. Most farrier forges have far more width and depth than height.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Friday, 03/16/07 07:36:05 EST

Mike Berube, Frank Turley gave you good sound advice. When I was starting out, I too was gun shy, and still catch myself hammering past hot enough, trying to save time by saving another heat. In reality, as Frank notes hot metal moves much easier.
As a side note, his mention of heavier scale is also true, and one of the things I have learned, especially if using a gasser is that the scale, in this heavy form will pop off and carry a good distance, and still have enough heat to really burn you. I have learned to give a quick tap over the anvil to knock loose scale off, or sometimes to sorta saw the bar over an edge of the anvil to scrape the scale off, then pound. I also have a heavy brush to use.
I too like to use the heel of the horn, and I use both a 2.5# engineers hammer, dressed to a more round profile, or an angle peen of 2# or 2.5#. The angle peen against the horn in effect fullers both sides of the bar, and will really move out the iron. My best angle peens are made by Nathan Robertson, and have a generous radius, leaving an easy to clean up surface.
As Frank notes, I too slow down, and get that hammer high, as it is easy to get a lot of velocity without as much effort when raising the hammer high. I tend to have my hammer hand reach over my head when moveing a lot of metal. I do not push the hammer. I have a small tear in the rotator cuff in both shoulders, and this technique does NOT hurt my shoulders, or my Tennis elbow like issue in both my elbows. (the tennis elbow is not from smithing but rather from a virus, much like Lymes desease, caught while working in Mexico) A slow,steady pace, with the "right for you" hammer, enough heat, and some technique will let you really move the iron.
   ptree - Friday, 03/16/07 07:36:18 EST

Tennis elbow:

Ptree, it's interesting that you mentioned getting the tendonitis from a virus. I got it in both elbows at the same time some years ago and just assumed it was from smithing. I was gripping my tongs way too close to the joint, and using a death grip. I thought it was weird that both elbows hurt, since the causes were very different. Maybe I caught something?

Anyway, I changed my tong grip and also my hammer technique, going to a more Hofi-like swing. Both elbows have cleared up nicely and I only occasionally feel soreness.

   - Marc - Friday, 03/16/07 08:32:46 EST

Aaron B,H,:
I've found that that really is part of demoing. Example: I've demoed at the same arts&crafts fair for the past few years that is hosted by the college i attended. Every year there has been the same local kid that has shown up wanting me to make him a sword. Every year I explain that I am not a bladesmith (or a farrier, but that's another story) and that I don't make swords (not to mention that his mom probably wouldn't want him having a sword), and then proceed to explain what an ornamental metalworker/blacksmith does make. Now if it was the kids dad showing up and heckling me every year...I'd probably tell him to bug off....

As Thomas P said above, having a "fancy piece" does help a WHOLE lot. Right now I am working on a big (24"x18"X48") roll around pine tool chest. Attached to said chest will be different styles of hinges, handles , latches , legs , and whatever else will screw, nail, or bolt onto it (not to mention all the tools inside). I decided to make this for a couple reasons 1) it looks a little more professional than a bunch of 5 gallon buckets full of tongs and hammers, and 2). It gives me a good way to show off some of my different work that would take too long to make for a short demo. I've found that while some people are interested in how to make leaves from steel, most people can only find limited use for such things in there home :)

-Aaron (not the only one anymore) @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Friday, 03/16/07 09:58:52 EST

I get this same question too. . . Perhaps we should all carry a fancy sword to demos and when they ask "can you make me a sword", pull it out and say "Sure Kid, do you have $20,000?"

The custom made tool chest with fancy hardware is a nice idea. Could sell some furniture that way as well. For some ideas take a look at the Armada Chest on OldLocks.com and the Mästermyer tool chest. I think Atli has a chest that I have photos of somewhere. . .

My problem is I need more tool chests for storage and organization and when I build them they will be plain and as functional as possible. . . I'd love to have time to make a display piece.
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/07 10:51:02 EST

I had had some traumatic arthritis over the years from the broken bones and joints suffered in car wrecks, a mild small plane crash, and 600 parachute jumps. I also did many years in the ARMY, running on concrete.
When I caught the virus, evry injury I had ever suffered felt as if it had just occerred, with bleeding in the joints. My elbows had 4" by 6" hemmorages, that lasted for several weeks. The VA did many tests and said I had an unidentified virus. I wore the tennis elbow straps for a couple of years 24-7, but now only wear them when I demo, as I have a power hammer in the shop, and do a lot less hand hammer work in the shop.
I don't know what I had, but would not wish it on anyone. Severe fatique, and pain for about 6 months. Took me another year to get back to really being able to work as before.
   ptree - Friday, 03/16/07 10:56:32 EST

Thomas P, Thank you, very insightful and humorous, As for 1859 period we dont stay in first person wich would be acting as though your stuck there we just tell people about the shakers. All I do is make knives and repair tools, Which is very hard without an anti-oxidant took me forever to figure that one out, This ones problably been asked but round here borax is hard to find can you tell me of anything else?
   Aaron B.H - Friday, 03/16/07 11:51:00 EST

As for a fancy piece I did succeed in making a Gladius but I hardend it before straightnin it and now have a very bent sword. I started with a big rig leaf spring wich I like for making knives and such it seems to do well enough. Although just the drawing out by hand is enough to make most take a detour in there hobby for a while:) the things usualy 1/2" thick by 5 1/2" to 7" wide the sword took me 5 months with about 5 to 6 hours in the forge 5 days out of the week and knives from leaf spring take me about a week alone made a knife three days ago in four hours with the help of a striker. is it me or is the metal to hard to effectivly draw out quickly? I dont realy have the finances to go out and do anything but dive for scrap ohh yeah I got a 150 pounds of 1095 steel at the scrap yard for like 50 bucks im still working with that for now.
   Aaron B.H - Friday, 03/16/07 12:07:20 EST

Aaron, Where is "around here"

Borax can be found in many but not all grocery stores. It hides next to the bleach as a "laundry booster".

You can also purchase the dehydrated type from ceramic supply houses. We list one on our links page.

Now. . good old 20 Mule Team Borax is not used everywhere. I've hauled 15 or 20 pounds to Costa Rica. If you can't find it locally I am sure we can work something out.
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/07 12:14:31 EST

Tool and spring steels are a LOT tougher to forge than mild steel. You must work it hot (but not burning) and then quit before it is a medium red. This means short heats.
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/07 12:16:37 EST

Leaf spring is harder under the hammer; but 1 week is excessive. I would expect to forge out a blade in one session usually a morning or an afternoon and I'm not pushing myself.

It's hard to troubleshoot remotely---to see how hot you are working at. How big and well mounted the anvil you are using, How big your hammer is, etc.

One thing I would look into is are you taking *large* leaf springs and forging thin blades from them? If so you are throwing away time and money. Start with a LS closer to your max end thickness. "Free" steel may be more expensive than bought steel if it's wasting fuel and days of work.

Fullering: I like to use the horn on my 500# Fisher in conjunction with a straight peen I have with a very large rounded pein---looks like a 1"+ round was welded to the peen area. no sharp edged dings in the metal and it draws fast!

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/16/07 12:44:13 EST

Small round coil spring stock forges out into nice blade sizes much more easily than flat leaf springs. A normal auto coil spring is about 1/2" in diameter and will make a Bowie or a sword when flattened. Helper coil springs will make nice smaller blades and small springs like valve and clutch springs will make small pocket and folders.

Junk yard steel rules apply.
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/07 12:50:21 EST

Frank Turley,

Thanks for the very eloquent lesson in hammering. Excellent explanation.

When you say "well above the head", how much? Seems like I limit myself to having my hand go no higher than the top of my head (thus the head of the hammer is a handle's length above my head). Should I go higher?

When I swing harder I am still death-gripping the hammer a bit (I know this is wrong, but I am still a little concerned with pulling the hammer down from above my head and MISSING the piece...putting a serious ding in my new Nimba :-( I will get over this and I get better all the time).

So if I read your message correctly you would seem to say that for 5/8", my assessment of "not having enough hammer" was reasonable given my 2.5lb hammer. Given that I have a question. I noticed that when working smaller stock (3/8") the anvil was "giving the hammer back" very nicely, then when working heavier (5/8") I noticed that the anvil seemed to be "giving the hammer back" much less. I took this to mean that my anvil stand was flexing on the heavier blows. What are your thoughts?

   Mike Berube - Friday, 03/16/07 15:59:17 EST


Thanks for chipping in on the discussion.

What is an angle peen (is it cross, straight or something else)?

Gasser and scale... Does your gas forge have a choke for the air intake? I find if I adjust the choke on mine just right I can reduce the scale SIGNIFICANTLY. But there is a fine line between just right and just a little less air and the heat goes way down. I have noticed the heavier scale (I've only gone up to an orange/yellow heat) can pop off and singe my hammer hand a bit. Good idea to pop it off with a light blow first.

   Mike Berube - Friday, 03/16/07 16:06:16 EST

Angle peen hammers have been around a while. The peen is turned 45° to the normal axis. Most have ben custom made or made in low production. Big BLU Manufacturing is now making a line of Czech pattern hammers with diagonal peens. Will be on their site in a couple weeks.
   - guru - Friday, 03/16/07 16:10:31 EST

Mike Berube, I use a blown gasser, and they tend to scale a little heavier than an atmospheric. I also tend to have several irons in the fire, and that allows them to scale up a bit. The angle peen is either the best thing since shelled peanuts, or worthless depending on who you ask. The advantage is that they allow a more ergonomic body position for me. I first saw one when Rob Gunther demo'ed at Tipton IN. years ago. Went home and made one by sawing and grinding a spare 2.5# engineers hammer. Worked ok. Nathan Robertson makes a very nice diagonal, and sells them reasonably. He can be reached across the street. I am sure that big blue's will also be a nice hammer as well. I would not buy a diagonal peen prior to trying one. You may love it or hate it.
A trick to help with the death grip on the handle, first carefully scrape all the varnish off the handle. Polish any dings to make a smooth grip. Then rub pure, natural bees wax on the handle. When the warmth of your hand warms the bees wax, it gets just a little sticky, making for an easy grip, that does not make you strain. Also helps when you get persiration on the hands. Reapply as needed. Handle shape can be very personal. I take store bought handles and put flats on the sides, giving a flatened oval shape. Works for me.
   ptree - Friday, 03/16/07 17:20:07 EST

First ..Thanks for any help..
How can I tell a cast iron anvil from a cast steel one?
Ive seen ads per both descriptors. I realize that the
cast irons wont last...but Harbor Freight has a 55 lber
for 30 bucks on sale. I have a Peter Wright about 145 lbs
but would like to have a lighter more portable one that I
could move easily. Most 70 lb anvils start at about 250..
I dont have that cash available at this time. Thanks again walt

   walt - Friday, 03/16/07 17:20:30 EST


Spend the thirty bucks on a hand truck to move your PW. Any $30/55# anvil is sure to be a piece of dreck.
   vicopper - Friday, 03/16/07 17:26:43 EST

Guru, ptree,

Thanks for the info on the diagonal peen. Seems like a good idea to me. I may look for one.

ptree, thanks for the hammer grip tip.

   Mike Berube - Friday, 03/16/07 17:52:11 EST

Actually guru I find it's easier to hot cut a length of length spring close to thickness and forge that than breaking down a coil spring and drawing it out sideways to get width.

Ptree I would saw a blown gasser scales *less* than an atmospheric since you can dial in exactly what you want while an atmospheric will get fussy and start huffing at some point as you cut back on the air.

When I teach I usually have one of each side by side and the blown one is the one I use for projects needing atmosphere adjustment or a wider heat range.

Of course every gasser is different! Every Gasser is great; if a gasser gets wasted...etc

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/16/07 18:05:06 EST

i have been researching towards the end of making a damascus pocket knife, now, i can find pleanty of information on how to make the blade. however i cannot find and would really appreciate any guidence (or links!) on how to make the the mechanism and handle for a pocket knife as i cannot find any information on this.
thanks in advance!
   Magnus - Friday, 03/16/07 18:49:08 EST

Does anyone have a good source of high quality 3/16" x 7/16" double-ended center drill bits? I use them to countersink screw holes in horseshoes. Thus, trying to drill a round hole in a rectangular nail hole. Last batch (Chinese) I got from Grizzly break every couple of shoes.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Friday, 03/16/07 19:34:17 EST

Ken scharabok,
Instead of a center drill have you tried a countersink? Weldon" makes a very nice type that I think might hold up better. It looks like a solid double tapered cone, with a hole on angle. These are available in knock offs as well in kits that have 4 sizes. We used thousands of them to deburr holes at the valve shop, in sizes up to several inches. Granted these were round holes, but I think they are a tuffer steel than a center drill, which is usually hard and stiff to resist moving off center. Another thought is a multi edged countersink. Both of these have short shanks and should be more break resistant.
Hagemeyer has both.
   ptree - Friday, 03/16/07 19:54:10 EST

Walt: I agree with VIcopper that You should just use the PW but make it easier to move. To answer Your question, get a big [3/4 to 1"] ball bearing and drop it on Your PW from about a foot up. Now drop the ball on mud from about a foot up. If You test an anvil and the ball rebounds like it does on Your PW it is a good hard steel anvil. If it rebounds like when dropped on mud it is soft cast iron. Actuaslly dropped on cast iron the ball will rebound a few inches, but You get the idea.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/16/07 21:37:26 EST

Mangus: Take apart a cheap pocket knife by grinding the rivet heads off on 1 side and prying one side plate off, Now You can see exactly how it works and what You need to make.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/16/07 21:40:10 EST

Ken S: The Weldon type countersinks with the hole are the best, they come in 82 and 90 deg. If You need the 60 deg from the center drill, but keep breaking the drill tip off You could grind the tip down to the 60 deg angle so You just have 60 deg. right out to the point. You need to grind carefully, but it will be stronger than the drill tip when done. If You are drilling the square hole out to round, get the "top USA quality" bits from MSC and see if they are any better. MSC offers 2-3 quality levels in cutting tools, the good ones should be the best ones available anywhere. Hagmyer should have a similar product if You are dealing with them.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/16/07 21:50:35 EST

Just completed my third mirco forge with LOTS of improvements, including dual front doors (one vertical, and two variable horizontal sliding doors). Another trick I pulled is a roof vent with a funnel leading into the air intake to the TS-8000 for pre heating. This forge runs SUPER hot and really effiecent. Pics posted on my site as soon as I take them.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/16/07 22:17:29 EST

Dear Guru I have a ornamental iron shop we do custom railings,gates and artwork. I am faced with a design I've never tried. The floor of a spanish style balcony we need to build is designed to have 1/4 x 1 1/2 flat bar basket weave, riveted at the intersections. I don't know exactly where to start, would you pre bend and punch all the flat bar and lay it in, or would you start by actually weaving it. If you have any input I would love to learn a new technique.
   rick sanchez - Saturday, 03/17/07 01:04:02 EST

I own one of those 55# cast iron POS. I picked it up on sale because I didn't know better at the time. Later I payed $12 for a 15# steel block that I still use for all of my small stuff. It has a seven inch rebound. The ASO has something like two or three. Does the Harbor Freight ad still extoll the vertues of using the ASO as a weight for gluing projects and counter weights? If you really want one you can have mine for the cost of shipping. I'm serious.
   Will - Saturday, 03/17/07 01:14:57 EST

I own one of those 55# cast iron POS. I picked it up on sale because I didn't know better at the time. Later I payed $12 for a 15# steel block that I still use for all of my small stuff. It has a seven inch rebound. The ASO has something like two or three. Does the Harbor Freight ad still extoll the vertues of using the ASO as a weight for gluing projects and counter weights? If you really want one you can have mine for the cost of shipping. I'm serious.
   Will - Saturday, 03/17/07 01:24:08 EST

Hi, I am an amateur filmmaker writing a screenplay for a new film. I have no experience in blacksmithing, but I need to know, if it is possible for a blacksmith to take a 6" long x 3/8 inch wide spike/nail used during the time of Christ, such as the spikes used during his crucifixion, could that be taken and made into a 10”L x 1” W blade for a dagger, without actually melting down the iron, but instead hammering it flat? I have a reference pic of the kind of nail I am describing. [IMG]http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y110/cyrax037/nail.jpg[/IMG]
Also, could an extension piece be added to the bottom of the blade, to form the tang?

Thanks in advance for any help provided!!
   Leo - Saturday, 03/17/07 06:27:06 EST

Thank you. I have ordered from MSC. Went with their low grade for now and can bump up based on results.

Many of the horseshoe items I make are intended to be screwed to a wall. The 60 degree combination countersinks work well as it both leaves a screw hole and a recess for the screw head. First the 3/16" has to go through the rectangular nail hole and then the countersink area has to work within the nailhead crease. However, it is essentially twice having to drill a round hole in a square slot. It helps to drill the 3/16 through the back first, but doubles the time required to do each hole.

What is the internet address for weldon?

Could someone send me Mike's telephone number at hegemeyer? I know I have it here someplace but...

Walt: Small anvils (less than 100 lb) come up on eBay fairly often. Usually VULCANs. Cast iron body with a steel plate. They tend to be blocky. They can also be shipped by one of the ground delivery services.

Problem you will encounter is two different size hardy holes. Likely your PW has 1". A 70-lb anvil probably has 3/4".

Harbor Freight also sells a 110-lb Russian cast anvil for around $90. 1 1/8" hardy hole diagonal to horn. You can use 1" shafts in them with a shim.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Saturday, 03/17/07 06:47:09 EST

   - guru - Saturday, 03/17/07 09:37:22 EST

Ptree, my situation mirrors yours, well, except for the car wrecks, plane crash, jumping out of perfectly good planes, ... But I have been doing some pretty intense keyboard banging over the past 25 years or so.

So maybe it wasn't a virus with me, just a coincidence that both elbows flared up at the same time.
   - Marc - Saturday, 03/17/07 09:59:25 EST

My friend HOFI makes the point about diagonal peens, that pretty much matches what I said. People either think they are wonderfull and can't be without one, or don't feel they deserve space in the hammer rack.
I have many hammers to choose from in my collection. I use two the most. A 2.5# engineers hammer, with dressed faces, forged in the forge shop of the valve company I worked for. They got an outside job and forged perhaps 50 TONS of hammers from 1# to 8#. I was able to collect a number of the rejects. These were forged in presses, in 4 progressive impressions, including punching the eyes. The heat treat was a water squirt on the faces as they passed by on a conveyor, right off the press. Made from 1050.( Maybe 30 seconds per forgeing to forge from the billet!)
I also have a couple of diagonal peens, and I use the 2# as my next favorite hammer.
I had to move to different hammers and technigues after I damaged my elbows and shoulders from factors other than hammering. If I could only have the one hammer, the 2.5# engineers would be the choice. The 2# allowed my to continue hammering when I was sick, and could not stand and swing properly, as I had too much pain in my virus damaged joints. Those who saw my at hammer-ins from 2005 to about 2006 may remember that I had the elbow straps on, did not hammer on much of anything and especially in 2005, moved like a hundred year old.
I have tried the Hofi hammer on several occasions, and it is a very nice hammer. I can't hold it as HOFI instructs, due to some pretty bad damage in the knuckles of that hand. For my damaged body I use a long handle, swung from high, steady pace, and my ring and pinkie finger do most of the grip. My situation is pretty unique, and your hammer choices should match your needs.
   Ptree - Saturday, 03/17/07 11:42:32 EST

The Guru will have a better answer and more informed but it occurs to me that the iron nails the Romans used would not make a good blade because they were pretty soft. That doesn't mean that a smith could not take the nail and fold it into better metal and create a kind of damascus blade. As to adding a tang to a blade it could be done with a forge weld. Like I said. The Guru will have a better answer.
   Will - Saturday, 03/17/07 12:20:47 EST

Welding Chrome Plated Steel:

Hi All,

I was wondering if there are any issues with welding chrome plated steel? I assume you'd need to grind off the chrome at the weld joint, but what about fumes? I know welding around zinc is very dangerous from a fume standpoint.

I have an old weighlifting bar that I plan to cut up and weld short pieces on something so I can hang weight plates on it.

Let me know your thoughts please.

   Mike Berube - Saturday, 03/17/07 12:40:55 EST

Weaving 1/4" flat bar-
If you want an actual flat floor, you need to make a U shaped bend in each flat bar at each intersection, each U being 1/8" deep and 1 1/2" wide.
This can easily be done cold in a hydraulic press, or hot, either by hand or with a fly press, or hydraulic press. I find that it doesnt work as well in the power hammer, unless you have one that is REALLY controllable for single hits, as double and triple hits leave a messy multiple impression.

Best way to make the die for this is with a milling machine and a ball end mill, so you can make the curved bottom die. Top die can just be a big piece of 1 1/2" x 1/2" or so flat bar.

However, this technique requires very accurate spotting of bends, measuring, and takes quite a while.
I recently made a bunch of 3 1/2" square wire mesh from 3/8" round stainless this way, hot on the hydraulic press, and it was pretty time consuming. I made my dies register the last bend in the other direction, so it was self spacing.
It turned out beautifully, but I dont know if you have budgeted the time to do this level of quality.

to just weave the 1/4" flat bar, without bending it, would require a pretty big grid spacing- it doesnt want to cinch up very tight. My guess would be at least 6" square holes, probably bigger, and that might not work if you have a 4" sphere rule in place.
Thinner flat bar would help- is this actually going to get walked on? Even if it is, 1/8" flat bar is probably more than strong enough, particularly if its a tight grid.
It gets very hard to hammer the grid pieces together for this type of weave, even with 1/8". I had to hammer my stainless together quite heartily, with a soft blow, even though it was all prebent.

I would definitely prepunch one of each intersection, but I might then weave it, and then drill the second piece- to try to align a few hundred holes in a weave like this, with them all prepunched, sounds nigh on impossible to me.

Consider clecos as well- these are springloaded clamps that are used in aircraft sheet metal, they go in a hole and hold the two sheets tightly together, installed and removed with special pliers, and available in 1/4" diameter. So you drill a hole, insert a cleco, drill a couple more a few holes away, and insert a couple more clecos, and it holds the weave in registration while you drill and rivet a bunch more. Then remove the clecos and rivet those holes.
You can get Clecos at www.ustool.com
   - ries - Saturday, 03/17/07 13:11:26 EST

Will, folding and welding soft iron does not make it better. In fact it removes what carbon there might be and make also makes it red-short or brittle.

Folded steel starts with both hard steel and softer iron or other steel and the two are worked to create a material that has properties of both.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/17/07 13:18:35 EST

Welding Chrome plated Steel:

I use stainless welding rod.

Zinc is not chrome.

Yes certain chrome compounds are toxic.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/17/07 13:23:01 EST

Guru Chrome:

Why do you use stainless rod?

What I was getting at with the zinc was as an example of something that I would not weld without a LOT of ventiliation (zinc plated steel). I was assuming that I'd need real good ventilation with the chrome plate as well, but thought I'd ask.

Good quality chrome plating involves copper plate, nickel plate followed by chrome. I assume it is the nickel and chromium that are toxic?

   Mike Berube - Saturday, 03/17/07 13:56:34 EST

Quality Control in the Steel Industry: Poppycock! It is due to unscrupulous distributors and vendors who have no hesitation to sell you what you want even if they don't have it. Most steel companies are ISO certified and meet AISI, API, ASTM, ASME requirments for the steels they produce. Once the steel leaves the mill, you are at the mercy of the wholesaler, distributor, vendor and salesperson, none of whom can even spell "metallurgy", to give you what you ask for. Just remember some ASTM specifications allow for a WIDE variation in chemistry and if you buy this material, you have to be smart enough to know how to deal with it. If you want a SPECIFIC chemistry, you have to order it and be prepared to pay more for it.
   quenchcrack - Saturday, 03/17/07 14:33:53 EST

I weld chrome plate tools with SS rod because the SS rod has chrome and nickel in it, works well on tool steel and matches the chrome plate (somewhat) and does not rust. The flux on SS rods has Calcium flouride (flourite) in it which is an agressive flux that works with chrome and nickel.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/17/07 14:48:25 EST

ries thank you for your input, I think the die you described will be my plan of attack. Im actually looking foreward to this new challenge and plan to spend the time to make a good fixture that will register off the last bend or even the hole. It will always come in handy for future use. Thanks again for your time in this matter.
   rick sanchez - Saturday, 03/17/07 14:54:25 EST

Thanks Guru

   Mike Berube - Saturday, 03/17/07 15:02:17 EST

Mike Berube,

A couple of belated thoughts on your drawing-out question. First, rebound isn't an end in itself. If you're using the same hammer and anvil and getting less rebound, the most likely explanation is that more energy's going into moving the hot steel. If that's what's happening, it's cause for celebration, not despair.

Second, others might disagree, but a 3/8 fuller sounds small for drawing out. I use a piece from a lug wrench (about 9/16 round), and it think that's kind of marginal. I suspect the extra local distortion you get with a small fuller isn't helpful for drawing. The big problem, though, is cold shuts. And if you end up having to fuller shallower and further apart to avoid them, you'll draw slower as well.
   Mike BR - Saturday, 03/17/07 15:04:03 EST

Welding chrome.
In the heat of welding, chrome tends to become hexavalent chrome.(Chrome6) The amount of chrome in the plateing is however small compared to the chrome in the stainless rods.
When welding with Chrome bearing metals, local exhaust, that pulls the fume away from the breathing zone is a very good idea. The OSHA standard for exposure to hexavalent chrome was just this year dropped by a factor of ten.

Hexavalent chrome is a carcinogen. No ifs, no buts. The EU has pretty much banned any Hex chrome, often used as an anti-corrosion treatment, and industry is scrambling to get engineering controls in place to meet the new standard.

Many of the OSHA exposure standards were set in the 70's, and every time NIOSH tries to set a new lower standard it is fought tooth and nail. The science on Hex chrome is such that the permissible exposure standard has been reset.
   Ptree - Saturday, 03/17/07 19:18:39 EST

I would add to what Mike said about rebound, that it is unlikely that your anvil stand is absorbing the rebound. True, a wimpy stand will add nothing to the anvil's effectiveness, but it won't take away any. It can't. The anvil has the same mass regardless of the stand.

Now, a really heavy and rigid stand with a lot of mass directly under the anvil, and with the anvil very, very tightly affixed to that mass, can make a small anvil more effective, to a degree. If you took a 200# block of steel the same size as the foot of your Nimba and then welded the anvil to it with a full penetration weld, you wound then have a 200# heavier anvil, and it would be that much more effective at resisting hammer blows.

The reason you're experiencing more rebound from the 3/8 than from the 5/8 is probably that the 3/8 is being drivendown to the anvil deeply enough to losea lot more local heat directly under the hammer, thus getting harder and transmitting the anvil's rebound better. The 5/8 willbe thicker and have more mass to old heat and will thererfore still be softer at the end of the blow, returning less energy. I hope that makes sense.

Personally, I use the Hofi hammering technique (at least as I interpret it from Hofi's video) and when I need to move metal in a hurry I use the "edge" of the hammer face as a top fuller, so to speak. I don't use the anvil horn as that is a tapered fuller and increases distortion. A properly contoured Hofi style hammer will move metal remarkably well once you learn how to use it the way it was designed to be used. If you use it like any other hammer you're wasting a lot of its potential.

My hammer is a 3.6# Hofi, and my anviil is a 450# Nimba. I can draw out the rein on a pair of tongs in about four or five heats if I'm fresh and really hustling, using 5/8" round bar. I generally use 3/4" suare for tongs though, and I can draw the rein out in one heat...on the power hammer. (grin)
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/17/07 19:26:38 EST

When I said "better metal" what I meant and should have said was steel. I said you would have a better answer. I didn't mean to step on any toes.
   Will - Saturday, 03/17/07 20:49:30 EST


I don't use a diagonal peen, and don't intend to do so.

Re Hofi's response, when referring to "faster", I was talking about a too rapid rhythm, not velocity.

Furthermore, when the rhythm is too fast while double-striking, the striker doesn't have enough time to lift his hammer high enough, and he starts reaching and pecking at the work. I've seen instances where the journeyman was hitting as hard or harder than the striker, because the rhythm was too fast.

The striker should be hitting harder than the signaler; otherwise, why use a heavier sledge hammer?
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/17/07 23:12:23 EST

I myself prefer a 2.3333333 oz. straight peen hammer for the lesser wind resistance it presents to the ambient air around the anvil. This may seem insignificant to the untutored eye, but across a long day, it adds up. Yessirree, Bob, every little bit adds up to that all-important edge so vitally necessary for success in today's highly competitive smithing.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/17/07 23:19:46 EST

I know, I know, what, you are asking, exactly, does the estimable brother forge with a teency-weency 2.33333333 oz. hammer? I wish I could reveal that, and someday, when our enemies are vanquished, I hope perhaps I might, but for the nonce I am sworn to secrecy.
   Miles Undercut - Saturday, 03/17/07 23:25:00 EST

Leo; what Will doesn't take into account was that most blades in the first century AD would have been plain wrought iron; just like the nails.

Blacksmithing is a constant volume technique so as long as the volume of iron necessary is in the spikes you can forge a blade; Shoot I could forge a blade out of iron wire if I had enough of it---real wrought iron forge welds very nicely indeed!

Note that this blade would not be a very good one when compared with those a few centuries later when heat treating and steel both came together; but for that time it would be "run of the mill".

So figure out how much iron is needed for the blade and how much iron is in the spikes and allow a bit for scaling and grinding.

Since real wrought iron is easy to weld, welding more iron on for a tang would be simple---and was often done in later times when they did use steel which was a much more expensive material and wasted in a tang.

   Thomas Powers - Sunday, 03/18/07 00:00:52 EST

Mike BR

Rebound - I agree with your assessment here. But there were a few things, that together led me to believe there was a problem:
- Hitting harder did not seem to move the metal any more/faster
- The harder I hit the less rebound I got
- The next morning I noticed that the anvil stand had walked by more than a foot during the previous day's (~2 hours) session. I was only hitting down on the anvil during that period, no bending work over the side that might explain the walking.

The first 2 led me to believe I did not have enough hammer, but when I discovered the third it led me to believe that my anvil stand was yielding under the heavy blows.

To your second point... After yesterday I am in agreement with you. At Frank Turley's suggestion above I tried drawing out over the base of the horn. MUCH better results.

Thanks for the food for thought,
   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 05:57:18 EST

Ptree - Welding Chrome,

Thanks for the very good information, I will take heed.

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 06:00:20 EST


Your explanation about 3/8 vs. 5/8 seems plausible to me, thanks. I've recently noticed that as the 5/8 gets thinner (and wider) that my rebound seems to return. This would be consistent with your explanation.

When you say the "edge" of the Hofi hammer, do you mean top, bottom or side?

Regarding your discussion of the anvil stand... If you had 2 theoretical stands, Stand A, which allows the anvil to be pushed down under heavy blows, and Stand B which did not allow the anvil to be pushed down under heavy blows wouldn't you get less rebound on Stand A?
This assumes that the mass of the anvil is small enough that a heavy blow would displace the anvil enough that the stiffness of the stands (A and B) would come into play.
Is that even possible with a 2.5lb hammer and 120lb anvil?

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 06:17:23 EST

Material Bending Up instead of Down!? Help please.

Hi All,

Last night I was making a "hold fast" and was trying to curve the spring portion over the horn. I turned it upside down and put the "up" curve in the end of it successfully, but when I flipped it rightside up to put the "down" curve (between the shank and midway on the spring part) I got frustrating results.
I started with the midpoint (between shank and foot) across the horn and started hammering off center (far side of horn) while moving my hand (holding the shank) closer to the horn with each blow, essentially bending the piece over the horn a little bit with each blow. I believe this should have caused the piece to curve down "around the horn", but instead the piece was curving UP. I am guessing this is from inertia.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for your input,
   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 06:34:37 EST

What is agood source of design infomation for utility trailer design ?

The online vendors have diagrams with only alpha notations for dimensions for their tandem axle designs. No conversion tables are provided so far as I can discover.

Amazon has a book by M M Smith but no table of contents is offered for review. Any comments comments on this book or sugestions of other sources will be very helpful.

My main need is the geometry of connection between the equalizer bar and the link to spring connection. I already have most of the required hardware but am reluctant to start fabrication before I locate a reliable source.
   Dan - Sunday, 03/18/07 09:21:57 EST

Northern Hydraulics sells plans for many style trailers, from light single axle to heavy goosenecks. I have not bought any of these so can not offer any thoughts on their quality.
I have built several trailers, and pretty much based my designs on what I saw in comercial trailers. I used the comercials to get a ratio for tongue to axles etc. I no longer build trailers for sale, or work on any except mine. SWMBO has ruled that the liability outweighs the profits. Since SWMBO is an Attorney, who worked for many years in product liability defense, I must obey, I must obey, I must obey:)
   ptree - Sunday, 03/18/07 09:59:56 EST

Miles, I too have a high speed, tiny, polished hammer with almost no wind resistance. About an oz. I call it a jewelers planishing hammer. Used on silver and gold the results are quite nice. I don't think you will be cast out of the brotherhood of real men who move iron for using it, as long as you use the correct technique. :)
   ptree - Sunday, 03/18/07 10:04:08 EST

Mike Berube --

If you had a stand that was stiff enough that the anvil couldn't be pushed down under heavy blows, you'd have an anvil with an effective mass equal to that of the Earth. That's not possible, of course. Any stand is going to flex some (not to mention the floor underneath it) and even the anvil itself compresses to some degree under the blow.

If you ran the number for momentum and kinetic energy based on your hammer and anvil weights, you'd find that only a few percent of the energy in your hammer blow can end up as kinetic energy in your anvil, even ignoring any resistance from the stand.

I can't back this part up with numbers, but I suspect that even the stiffest stand (short of the steel block VICopper described) mostly serves to arrest the downward motion of the anvil after the hammer's already bounced off. A stiffer stand will stop the anvil more quickly and bounce around less, but I doubt it will do much to make your blows more efficient.

If I followed your bending question correctly, curving a piece across the horn as you described will tend to make both a convex-up curve across the horn, and a convex-down curve between the horn and the far end of the piece. As you implied, the piece will rock over the horn as you hit it, the inertia of the far end will try to hold it in place as the rest of the piece rocks.

Assuming your piece was tapered, the thinner end extending off into space probably bent more easily that the thicker part that was supported on the horn. Bending the thicker part of a tapered piece is always tricky. Holding the thin end and hitting the shank as it extends on the far side of the horn might help some. Making sure the part you want to bend is *hot* and the rest of the piece isn't helps even more. You could also consider making the bend in the vise, into a swage block, or with the shank stuck in the hardy or pritchel hole.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 03/18/07 10:25:17 EST

I am a New Mexico architect working on exterior signage for my church which is on the state historic register. Our committee is in search of hand wrought letter styles and signage that would be historic and approiate for our New Mexico Territorial Revival Style, John Gaw Meem designed church, built in the late 40's. We have had limited success searching archives. We were hoping that there may be references available for hand wrought letter styles, individual or grouped and wall mounted. Also monument and small free standing directional signage all of forged wrough iron. Any suggested references or resources?
   Richard Schalk - Sunday, 03/18/07 10:43:01 EST

Mike Berube,

Start on the end. Feed the stock forward, and hit incrementally in mid-air beyond the horn. The horn doesn't give the curve; the horn is a support. The leverage blow beyond the horn in mid-air gives the curve. Inertia recurves do occur; take it into account when forging.

Miles and ptree. I have a dink chasing hammer with a thin haft. I'm told the wrist is used to a large degree with the index finger on top. I don't forge with it, tho'.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 03/18/07 10:43:34 EST

Northern Hydraulics became Northern Tool and Equipment some years ago. They do still sell trailer blueprints for about 27 styles. 800-556-7885 or www.northerntool.com.

I have purchased from NT for a number of years and have been very satisfied with service (U.S. call center) and products for price. Quality seems a WHOLE lot better than Harbor Freight.

2007 Master Catalog is a hardcover book with slick paper pages. Arrived in cardboard container. Had to have been printed in China to be able to do that cost effectively.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 03/18/07 10:55:11 EST

Frank Turley

Thanks for the tips.

I would LOVE to sign up for one of your classes, but you are in New Mexico right? I am in New Hampshire. Alas I have a day job, and if I were to burn 3 weeks of vacation time to fly across the country to learn blacksmithing I think my Wife and kids would KILL me. :-)

I suppose my hammering just past the center-line on the horn is what was giving my curves the look of a section of the surface of a cone, right?

Thanks again Frank,
   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 11:24:49 EST

Mike BR

Thanks for the discussion about the anvil stand. I think I am going to get over the stand instability thing and just use it.

Thanks also for confirming my suspicions about the bending issue.

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 11:31:56 EST

Curving on the horn: There is a bit of art to this. Many smiths do that type of bending in a fork in the hardy hole. Yes, inertia can do some interesting things. I bend an of things over the edge of the anvil that need an inside curve. As you work the extended material wants to stay straight so it ends up parallel and below the anvil face, the curve the oposite of what you would think.

For a hold fast I would not use the hammer. I would heat the work, hold it firmly, swing and strike IT over the anvil horn. Then the inertia swaps the piece around the horn smoothly. This is a very common blacksmithing technique.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/18/07 12:15:10 EST

Richard Schalk,

Our Frank Turley is the man to speak to. He and Marc Simmons wrote a book titled, Southwestern Colonial Ironwork, The Spanish blacksmithing tradition from Texas to California.

However, I think you are looking for something that does not exist. Wrought letters were rarely used except for dates and occasional owner's initial (single) often affixed to a chimney as part of a tie bar anchor. These were fairly rare and would come under folk art. Signage with wrought letters is also quite rare and it would more often be in the form of a stylized monogram designed by the owner or taken from a jeweler's engraving. This would likely be representing a jewelery business or some very high class business.

If you want wrought letters made of the correct style you would start with a lettering style or font common to the time and locality. THEN you would let a blacksmith modify the font as needed to make it manufacturable by the methods of the time. But there is a good chance that this type of thing IF it had existed would have been cut from plate using a chisel then dressed by filing and hammering the edges to produce a chamfer. Texture would have been up to the customer but hammered texture was generally considered bad craftsmanship by smiths. If texture WAS applied it would be of uniform coverage (no pock pock ball peen marks as was common in 1950's trash ironwork). Much of what folks THINK is wrought texture is the result of years of rust.

   - guru - Sunday, 03/18/07 12:37:02 EST

ptree-- Bless you! I feel soooo relieved. Nay, validated. And perhaps even a bit vindicated. But did I mention the lateral spoilers on my hammer that open when I exceed 320 fps, so as to minimize the Venturi-induced backdraft? Betcha don't have those little beauties on your planishing hammer. And the de-gravitizer that blocks the gravitational pull of the anvil, reducing effort needed for the lift on the return? And I won't even mention the pre-heater built into the haft. Ooops, I just did....
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/18/07 12:39:21 EST

Blacksmith Painting/Print for Memorial

My father, an amazing blacksmith, died recently. A memorial fund was established for our local public library and for the high school library. The school is using the funds to buy books to supplement the welding and shop classes. The public library would like to use a portion of their money to buy a framed print for one of the large blank walls in their beautiful new building.

One of the options being considered is a painting or print of a blacksmith. Googling various combinations of blacksmith art, blacksmith painting, blacksmith print, anvil.. has not resulted in finding any that are quite right. He never liked horses and most seem to depict someone with horses and horseshoes.

I’m hoping some of you have favorite paintings you can recommend so I can present options to my family for consideration. If you could post title and artist I’d be so pleased or send a website for a local or regional artist who has worked with this subject, it would be very appreciated.
   Sarah Hahn - Sunday, 03/18/07 12:43:40 EST


Nice tip on whacking the work over the horn, thanks.

   Mike Berube - Sunday, 03/18/07 12:48:59 EST

Sarah Hahn, I believe that Anvilfire had a lithograph of an industrial blacksmith shop, titled
   - ptree - Sunday, 03/18/07 13:50:39 EST

Sarah Hahn, I believe that Anvilfire had a lithograph of an industrial blacksmith shop, titled "The last anvilmakers". Another possible source is A company called Finkle & Sons. They are a speciality die steel maker, and publish some great old photo's in their calender.
I also have a sister who paints murals and fine art, who could perhaps help.
   ptree - Sunday, 03/18/07 13:51:06 EST

Richard for a '40's SWC revival style why not look at branding irons for letters?

Sarah, what about Goya's "The Forgers"?

Miles, I thought the teepee you built over your forge was keeping the fumes away from yourself---better check it for a birds nest.

   Thomas P - Sunday, 03/18/07 13:56:51 EST

Nathan Green’s “The Last Anvil Makers” is under consideration in part because of the amount of time Dad spent with Richard Postman’s book on his lap.

Someone also suggested the Leon Engelen “Blacksmith” It is great because it shows a pretty grimey shop. The odd thing is, the fellow not looking a bit like Dad doesn’t bother me as much as the anvil not looking like a Trenton.
   Sarah Hahn - Sunday, 03/18/07 14:38:38 EST

Thomas P.-- sorry, Bub, you and Jodie Foster are just out of the loop down there at the Very Large Array gazing into the nether galaxies. Here in the shadow of Los Alamos, we are pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. The anti-gravitator that lessens the anvil's tug on my micro-hammer is just the tip of the iceberg. Wish I could divulge more details to you, but, alas, ultra-secret clearance is required, and loose lips sink ships....
   Miles Undercut - Sunday, 03/18/07 17:33:04 EST

Miles, The large head on my tiny hammer, works as an aerodynamic vortex generator on the down swing and a blunt body drag inducer to control the upswing which otherwise would be uncontrollable since my tiny anvil is made of the increadiblely springy unobtainiam. And the birds nest should be about to catch fire by now.
   Ptree - Sunday, 03/18/07 19:31:20 EST

I have been forging metal for just over a year now. A good friend of mine is a cabinet maker and I would like to offer him a set of Wood chisel of different size and shape.

Should I use A36 mild steel or something stronger. Any book or DVD on the subject would be appreciated


   Dan - Sunday, 03/18/07 21:23:29 EST

Sarah Hahn: Would they also consider a blacksmith statue? From time to time some very nice ones show up on eBay. Here is one I rather like listed now: 5382817367.

Just periodically do a search on blacksmith statue.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Sunday, 03/18/07 22:10:26 EST

Dan: A36 is a poor choice. If You buy tool steel O1 or A2 would be good choices, if You use scrounged materials worn out good quality files are the best.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/18/07 22:13:02 EST

Mike Berube: I built a Hoffi type stand, that is a 2" thick steel plate and 3 legs of 2"x4"x1/4" tubing. At 145# it is pretty substantial altho not quite as good as VIcopper's hypothetical stand. The [158#] anvil sits on it without rocking and is bolted down. This probably doesn't work as effectively as a 300# anvil, but I think that stand probably adds some effective mass.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/18/07 22:21:55 EST

Dan, get a good grade of tool steel if you want to make a set of wood chisels for your friend - A36 will not hold up and harden adequately. I'd suggest O1, W1 or equivalent, also any plain carbon steels from 1070 up should work, though I wouldn't go above 1095.
   - Gavainh - Sunday, 03/18/07 22:33:19 EST

Dear guru,
isit advicable to make use of the galvanized materials in the tetra chloride storage area since it is more corrosive in nature.is there possibilities to make use of any other corrossion resistant materials.
   ezhil - Monday, 03/19/07 01:59:19 EST

I don't understand the above discussion regarding hammer velocity etc etc. I have studied enough physics to know that kinetic energy, E = 1/2 m v^2 and it's good for you hammer to have lots of it. Furthermore, for a fixed mass, the only option is to move it faster if you are looking to impart more energy into your target. There is no other variable.
Energy in this case, comes from one place & one place only - you. So you can try to get your hammer up to high velocity over a short swing - requiring a huge acceleration & hence force exerted on your joints, since F = m a.
Alternatively you can lift the hammer high, giving it large potential energy which will be converted to kinetic energy. In addition you are allowing more space in which to accelerate your hammer to a large velocity, requiring less force to achieve a given velocity & hence energy.
So, given that Frank Turley's and Uri Hofi's description both use large, sensible, over the head swings, the only difference is the ergonomics of the movement. Is this correct?
Excuse my ignorance, but I've seen lots of mention and mathematical derivations and talk of 'systems' on the web and am confused. Since there's only one option for increasing energy with a fixed mass hammer = more speed, then really the only discussion point can be around the ergonomics of the stroke?
Having said that, if you're unable to lift a big hammer above your head it is clearly better to use a smaller hammer, but making sure you lift it high and swing fast.
   andrew - Monday, 03/19/07 02:18:42 EST

please note, it would seem I've used the term 'faster' in the opposite sense to frank in my post. I am referring to hammer velocity, whereas he was referring to strike-rate.
   andrew - Monday, 03/19/07 02:32:14 EST

Thanks for the info!! Just knowing that blades COULD be formed was VERY helpful, thank you very much!!!!
   Leo - Monday, 03/19/07 04:00:53 EST

??? tetrachloride There are a number of these compounfs but the only one I know is carbon tetrachloride a liquid solvent that used to be used for dry cleaning and i snow banned for most uses.

Titanium tetrachloride is a very hazardous liquid that reacts violently with water expanding 1600 times and creating a smoke screen.

Both the above are stored in glass, carbon steel or specific plastic containers.

You must be more specific about what chemical you are dealing with. Start with the MSDS and ask the manufacrturer about reactivity. Zinc is a much more reactive metal than iron/steel and that is how it protects steel. In a chemical storage area a reactive metal may not be a good idea.
   - guru - Monday, 03/19/07 07:58:26 EST

Dan; if you use files make sure the teeth are totally removed before re-forging them into chisels. You might look into making a set of mortoising chisels as they are easy to make and hard to find at a decent price.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/19/07 11:05:00 EST

Ptree-- I like the aerodynamic vortex generator and have ordered three of these whirly-swirlies for delivery in time for Easter, in delicate hues of apricot, magenta and cerise. Unobtainium suppliers locally uncan deliver necessary materiel, alas. However, the anti-gravitator will compensate. Have hit upon (haha, that's a pun, son!) major technique breakthrough, fixing work in leg vise and smiting with anvil held upside down. Delivers SIGNIFICANTLY heavier blows, accomplishing major improvements in production throughput.
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/19/07 11:10:03 EST

Hi I'm creating some (aluminium) wall hanger swords for a play and was wondering if anyone knew if there are any metals that when struck together will spark beside magnisium (too volitile, weak and expensive). Thanyou very much.
   PropMinion - Monday, 03/19/07 12:03:14 EST

PropMinion, Zirconium is quite good for this. It is the color and has similar strength as mild steel but is pyrophoric in small bits and chips. It is used in the Nuclear industry because of its it low radiation opacity (it is transparent to neutrons). Containers of chips of this material are dangerous as they catch fire easily and are prone to self ignition when moisture is present.

Ferrocerium an alloy of iron cerium and rare earth elements is the lighter "flint" that is not really flint. It was invented by Dr. Carl Auer von Welsbach (1858-1929). An edge of this would make a Jim-Dandy sparking sword. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/19/07 13:22:50 EST

Of course *real* swords don't tend to spark when in use.

Hollywood which loves to make things not act like they do in real life gets around this by using electrified blades to get sparks---I do not suggest you go that route unless you *REALLY* *KNOW* what you are doing as electrocuting the cast has a bad effect on subsequent performances

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/19/07 13:52:57 EST

Gentlemen, This is my first attempt to post on this wonderful forum, although I have been reading and studying for over 1 year. I am currently operating a Metal Art business using primarily "Combined Metal Teqnique"(fancy speak for Welded Sculpture)I have been using Blacksmith Teqniques for a couple of months.Currently using a 50# LG
for my power work but am looking at 2 different Beaudry 300# hammers for purchase.The asking price is $6500 plus shipping.All I have read here indicates these are a very good hammer.If both hammers are in equal shape should I pursue straight or combination dies. I would sure appreciate your guidance.P.S.I will surely post the contact info for the hammer I don't purchase here for all.
Thanks for your great site!
Johnny Woolsey St.George,Ut.
   Johnny Woolsey - Monday, 03/19/07 13:59:00 EST

Electrified blades. I've never seen this. But I've seen the as-shot film and the added effects. No sparks, dull wacks and an occasional "ouch, oh dang!" from the actors. Add, music, ringing of swords and CGI sparks and there is lots of excitement. . .

Big Hammer: Johnny, depending on the type of forging you do there are dies and there are dies. Most old factory and user made combination dies are fairly worthless except for creating heavy fullered texture and doing rough heavy drawing.

Modern combination dies have a wide square flat on one end and a narrow flat on the other. Both should have rounded edges. Actually the edge section should be elliptical with the long axis on the die face. This creates a range of smooth tapers that can be drawn. The back side of the die can be less radiused than the front but it too should be radiused. The narrow section is used for isolating stock and forging shoulders. It also acts like a narroe fuller. The wide section has a significant flat for smoothing and doing tooling work.

See the dies on the Big BLU page. Note however that these are sized for a 100-150 pound hammer and will not work in a 300. Their dies are also made of accurately heat treated S7 which will take much more abuse than lesser steels. Dies such as their crown and fullering/texturing dies will not hold up made of anything less than top grade tools steel.

Beaudry's are good hammers, beautifully built. However like all old hammers that are no longer manufactured any maintenance or repair is on you.

On a 300 Beaudry the factory combo dies had about a 3x5 flat and a 3x2 or 3x3 fullering surface. These OR the flat dies will do fine. If you want dies that really produce free hand work fast then you will need custom dies.
   - guru - Monday, 03/19/07 14:33:45 EST

Thomas P, Buy one week I mean at shaker village Thru the day I have about 4 hours of interrupted forge time I constantly have to stop and help with the farm there and give tours of farm I also am not very good at multi tasking I tend to stop what I'm doing to explain what I'm doing and it eats time not that I'm complaining. Now at work I have a 120# mounted on a 100# poplar stump 6" in the ground at home its in the old mother in-law house I made a open box 30" by 30" by 8" deep I have a 150# emerson anvil and a big ol 110# oak stump its around 23" tall I'm 6'2", I filled the box with sand about 4" and set the stump, then I set the anvil on the stump and traced the bottom of the anvil out with a felt tip marker on the top of the stump, And last I got my chisel set and cut out the trace I made about an inch deep so the anvil sits snug I can also move every thing which is why I did it that way, understand too that I'm like one of the worlds biggest procrastinator's. Making the box for the anvil to sit in took me 30 min, the stump now I was beeing picky had to find THE stump that took me almost a month, then the chisel work an hour or two. I like my anvil setup better than work but I like the forge at work better than mine, mine has poor ventilation realy smokey somtimes specialy when the wind blows the smoke back thru the windows. the sword and knives after what youve told me, I didnt heat enough and I do waste a lot of time drawing a 6-7" wide leaf spring down to the size I work with and thats where the time goes cause once I have the 1by1 or 2by2 that I like working with making the knife takes about 45 mins depending on the amount of mistakes and what not. now the hammers I have a short handled 3 lb. mini sledge a 3 1/2 lb. cross peen a 3 lb. ball peen, also an 8 a 10 and 15 lb. sledges the eight pond sledge I use to one handed when I feel like showing of a bit, not very effective though so I wouldnt reccomend it. I have some cresent wrenches visegrips and no tongs "23 failed atempts" but I wouldnt call them tongs. I kinda cheat I leave at least an extra 10" for a handle and a very good welding glove I've made about 30 knives like this and it seems to work I'd use tongs exept you know, I tend also to use the tongs at work instead of making some like I know I should.
   Aaron B.H - Monday, 03/19/07 14:48:34 EST

Guru - Thankyou very much! That should help alot. If you have anysuggestions on how exactly I would attach said Ferrocerium edge that would also be helpful.

Thomas P./Guru As for special effects and electrified blades though they sound fun this is a live stage play so that wouldn't really help.
   PropMinion - Monday, 03/19/07 14:50:56 EST

When I was younger, my brother made a Tesla coil. We did the "normal" things with it, like light fluorescent bulbs from 10-ft away, but then we got creative and wired each end of the secondary to car antennas. Pretty cool sparks from that!

   - Marc - Monday, 03/19/07 15:46:12 EST

Marc - Well thats rather amusing but not really helpful. :)
   PropMinion - Monday, 03/19/07 16:13:59 EST


There's more to it than just kinetic energy. I think of hammer hitting the stock and accelerating it, then the stock hitting the anvil.

With a small hammer and heavy stock, the hammer will give up most of its energy just accelerating the stock (the momentum of the two combined will be the same as the original momemtum of the hammer, but the kinetic energy of the system will be much lower than the hammer's was). This means that a small hammer will tend to deform the stock mostly at the surface.

A big hammer hitting small stock will retain most of its energy through the initial collision, and expend most of it in squishing the stock against the anvil. Thus, a big hammer tends to work the stock all the way through.

Also your hand and arm have significant mass. Reducing the hammer below a certain size won't reduce the total mass your muscles have to accelerate much, so the added velocity won't be enough to offset the lower hammer mass. And with a bigger hammer, you're storing more energy just lifting it over your head in the first place.

A bigger hammer is better for working bigger stock. A smaller hammer is just the ticket for upsetting or planishing, when you *want* to work just the surface. I suspect the biggest hammer you can comfortably use is most efficient for general work.
   Mike BR - Monday, 03/19/07 17:53:22 EST

Thanks for the information.If any would like info. on the other 300# Beaudry feel free to contact me at
   Johnny Woolsey - Monday, 03/19/07 18:28:56 EST

Sword sparklers,
One way to do this,,, Buy several packets of flints for a Zippo type lighter.
With aluminum 'prop' swords, The edges should be awfully blunt anyway, So drill a series of small holes along the sword edge then insert the flint bits flush along edge of the blade. I expect some kind of urethane glue would also be needed.
The "opponents" sword would need to be made of steel, But its edge would need to be somewhat sharp, That is ground to a square profile. NOT sharpened like a regular sword blade.
(I assume you have theatrical experience and are not a complete idiot:-)

With GOOD practice and rehersals go for glancing and scraping blows.
One should be able to scrape the steel edge along the flint studded aluminum edge. (or vice-versa)The steel will scrape off aluminum as well as the ferro ceramic flints too.

Of course this is still HAZARDOUS as either blade could hurt somebody if a practiced manouver is missed.
Also, This will produce flying off particles, Eye protection advised too.
   - Sven - Monday, 03/19/07 18:50:25 EST

Sven - Thankyou very much. This sounds like it should work well. And don't fret my actors are not idiots and will follow directions well. I appriciate the information.
   PropMinion - Monday, 03/19/07 19:38:02 EST

New Mexico Territorial Style

I have written a note to the architect, Richard Schalk, about doing a little homework for him. The style is a contrived revival which uses adobe and sometimes "vigas", cylindrical log roof beams. One often sees a red brick parapet and windows with a white painted peak at the top, the latter a mild suggestion of "Greek Revival". It is a pleasant appearing look. I agree with Jock that there probably would be nothing to copy in terms of signage from that time, that it would be something worked out by discussion and likely resulting in a "new" design and execution.
   Frank Turley - Monday, 03/19/07 19:39:34 EST

Sven, I rather imagined the little cylinders of Ferrocerium crimped into a groove milled into the edge of the "blade". Alternated with pieces of steel two blades might spark a pretty high percentage of the time. . .
   - guru - Monday, 03/19/07 19:40:33 EST

I thought of a milled groove also, But drilling a series of holes may be alot easier vs- milling a groove
   - Sven - Monday, 03/19/07 19:47:13 EST

I wonder if you could get away with splitting the sword lengthwise, and placing "flints" on one side of the split and strikers on the other. The idea would be that the two halves would work against each other when the sword flexed. Of course, the sparks wouldn't be limited to the point of contact, and a hard enough swing might strike sparks even without contact.
   Mike BR - Monday, 03/19/07 21:42:30 EST

Attn.: person seeking smithing painting-- take a peek at Goya's The Forge. (Google same for thumbnail.) The Net abounds in others. Rembrandt's The Goldsmith ain't blacksmithing but, wowee, for someone smiting on an anvil....
   Miles Undercut - Monday, 03/19/07 23:57:03 EST

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the remake) had over 2 dozen saws, most of which had the chains removed. They mocked up a neat little grinder in a few of them with old files on cams, so when Leatherface whacked it on stuff the file would push into the grindstone and voila! Sparks assunder!
   - Nippulini - Tuesday, 03/20/07 00:43:17 EST

When I tried to find the Goya's The Forge I came up with hundreds of articles on forgery. Be sure to put the entire string "Goya's The Forge" in quotes as shown.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 08:01:04 EST

Sarah Hahn,
Hidey. How ya doin'? I googled one of my favorite prints, "Forging the Anchor", under Images, and came up a likeness. I don't know however, where to get a full sized copy. I have seen it, and it is approximately 9" x 11". The young boy, the "fireman", has a big grin on his face.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/20/07 08:53:37 EST

Sarah Hahn:
My personal favorite (and one that pops up on the Anvilfire homepage now and again) is Jefferson Davis Chalfant, "The Blacksmith." My aunt had a program that would convert pictures into counted cross-stitch and was going to replicate it for me one time, unfortunately it would not have turned out correct because of the general darkness at the top of the image :( But, it would make a neat life-size mural.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 03/20/07 09:09:07 EST

can anyone tell me if there is a good farrier school around texas anywhere? or where a good farrier school is?
thank you

hold strong
   - son - Tuesday, 03/20/07 09:10:39 EST

son: Contact anvil@anvilmag.com. The Anvil magazine covers the farrier trade and they can likely provide a reference to you.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Tuesday, 03/20/07 11:53:58 EST


I've no question, only a compliment on your remarkable site. Your summary response to the FAQ about how to make a sword is worthy of U.S. Grant, whom James McPherson once described as a man whose instructions simply could not be misunderstood.


Gordon M. Strauss
   Gordon M. Strauss - Tuesday, 03/20/07 13:33:54 EST

Thank you kind Sir. We are constantly writing and adding to our articles. The swords article is a long way from finished. While I have done all the starter projects (even wooden models) it was many many years (decades) ago. The intent is to illustrate those parts so that the reader fully understands the point of the exercises.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 15:54:05 EST

Aaron - Interesting: the Google Image search comes up with exactly one hit on the Chalfant painting, the digital image of which is signed with our guru's copyright notice for the digital image.

Maybe Jock could help Sarah find a good print on that one. . . Or have a display-size ink jet or dye sublimation print made. . . (for an appropriate fee, of course. Assuming that he has a high-resolution scan on hand.)
   John Lowther - Tuesday, 03/20/07 16:06:10 EST

son look up oklahoma state horse shoeing school
   jake - Tuesday, 03/20/07 16:08:19 EST


Since some old anvils were made with steel faces on cast iron bodies, would it be possible to turn a cast iron ASO into a usable anvil by hard facing it with an arc welder?
   Matt - Tuesday, 03/20/07 16:40:11 EST

i agree with miles on the velocity thing.
   coolhand - Tuesday, 03/20/07 16:44:00 EST

to make a good anvil out of a cast iron anvil, you would need a continuous weld the entire area of the face, if not , theres no reason to, because it wont help at all,

historicaly, steel faced anvils with cast iron bodies had a steel face in the bottom of the mold, and when the anvil was cast, it was fused to the face, then hardened and tempered,

aside from that, it doesnt work all that well,
   Cameron - Tuesday, 03/20/07 17:08:59 EST

Also, when welding, you would need to preheat, and slowly cool, lest the cast iron crack,

also, most cast iron aso's are made in an anvil shape, not really a useable anvil, theyre just the easiest shape to cast that is "Close" to what an anvil looks like
   Cameron - Tuesday, 03/20/07 17:10:59 EST

coolhand-- bless you! I totally forgot to mention that on the downward swing, the anti-gravitator shuts off and the gravitational enhancer kicks in, until impact, so as to beef up the attraction of the anvil for the hammer, increasing the foot-pounds of each blow.
   Miles Undercut - Tuesday, 03/20/07 17:27:53 EST

I have heard that there is a formula called the "Clackson Scroll Formula" for working out the length of metal you need to make a scroll of any particular size. However, I have never been able to find it in any text book. Can you help me, please?
   - Derek Rae - Tuesday, 03/20/07 17:37:58 EST


You wrote, "you would need a continuous weld the entire area of the face." I'm not sure what you mean by a continuous weld. If you mean the weld beads would have to overlap and cover the entire face of the anvil, I'm with you. In fact I assume it'd take several passes over the entire face to get a thick enough hard face to make any difference.
   Matt - Tuesday, 03/20/07 17:47:06 EST

Hard facing cast iron: Matt, my fisher has about a 2" steel plate for the face. Putting that much hardfacing on an anvil---it would probably be cheaper to buy a top of the line new anvil and have it gold plated to boot!

Just a thin layer will end up cracking as the cast iron gives underneath it when hit.

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/20/07 17:49:22 EST

Hello, I have recently made a fairly large knife (15") out of an old shoeing rasp. It is shaped the way that I want and I am ready to try harding and tempering it. I have just begun doing any metal work at all, so I am a true amature. The only tools that I have to work with are hammers, anvil, a blowtorch/rosebud, and misc tools of no real metal working importance. I also do not have a good way to quench the hot metal. Any ideas on what I should get to do this with would be appreciated. Also, if someone could tell me what to look for while I am hardening and tempering the metal that would be great. I would also appreciate any general advice anyone has. Like I said, I am the true newbie, and would like information. Also to note, I am an 18 year old college student, so I have a very small amount of spendable money, please keep that in mind when giving advice.
Thank you very much for you time-
   Ringo - Tuesday, 03/20/07 18:59:55 EST

Ringo, First, shoeing rasps vary greatly in material from good high carbon steel to case hardened mild steel. This is junk yard steel or mystery metal in the truest sense. See our FAQ on Junk Yard Steel.

Then see our links on that page to our Heat Treating FAQ, Temper Color Chart, Quenchants. . .

See also our review of Wayne Goddard's $50 Knife Shop. We also have a number of other books on our review page that would be of great help to you.

After that I am sure you will have more questions.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 19:32:21 EST

Matt, Although cast iron CAN be welded in general it is considered to be impractical to arc weld. Special nickel rod with special flux (Ni-Rod) is required to weld directly to cast iron. At over $1/stick the costs add up quickly. Then hard facing rod itself is very brittle and not intended for application over cast iron, it is intended to be applied to steel including repairing tool steels.

Even refacing steel anvils is largely uneconomical. You can purchase decent anvils for what it costs to make these repairs. Among the cost not reported in articles on doing this, the $100 or more additional electric bill, and the cost of labor. Even at a couple dollars an hour it is a significant expense when doing all that grinding, rewelding, grinding. . .

Note that weld build up is NOT the same as rolled or forged steel. It is more equivalent to a low grade cast steel. As noted, it is intended to be supported by good steel, not weak cast iron. The "Cast Iron Properties" on our FAQs page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 19:46:28 EST

thanks for the last info, and I think I may understand some stuff better. That also means I have more questions. Is there a way to heat my knife blade up so that i dont get hot spots? As i said before I am using a hobbystock torch with rosebud head to heat all my metal. Once I get one part of my knife hot, and move over to a new spot, the old one gets colder faster than i can keep it all hot. Any suggestions? When you temper a metal, and get the colors to run, should that one color expand over the entire piece of metal at once, then shift to a new color? If so how is this achieved? When I have tried to temper before, I could only get a rainbow of colors to run across the blade. Any ideas.

What tools should i save up for and get, and what ones can/should i make first with what I have?

On another note, I have tried working with rebar, and have tried to fold it. I did not use a flux, and no matter how hot I got it nor how much I tried to hammer it together, it always came apart again. Is that something that happens with rebar, or do I just need to add a flux? Any ideas?

Lastly, what would be the first couple of books that you would recommend I purchase to increase my knowledge in general and about knifes/old arms of war in particular?

I thank you all for your time and help, and I apologize if i ask a question that you have already answered somewhere else.
   Ringo - Tuesday, 03/20/07 20:25:12 EST

Ringo. The torch is not going to cut it. However, a lot can be done with a Micro Forge. however, they are limited to quite small work. One will help heat a small knife to hardening temperature. For tempering you can use a steel plate on a hot plate or stove top.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 21:36:47 EST

Forge Welding: This is where the torch is REALLY not going to cut it. You need a good forge such as a coal, charcoal, oil or good adjustable gas forge for forge welding.

The steel must be heated, wire brushed, fluxed, heated to a yellow, stuck together, heated and finished welding. All without burning up the steel or creating excess scale. Your best cheapest bet is a small charcoal forge (real charcoal).

Welding can be done with and without flux but it is easier with flux. For non-pattern welding there are fluxes with iron powder that work very well. You can make your own from approximately 50% boric acid, 30-40% borax and 10-20% iron powder. You can use brake drum turnings from an automotive brake shop for the iron powder. The finer the better. OR you can just buy a can of Easy-Weld from one of our advertisers.

See our iForge demo on forge welding.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 21:49:51 EST

John (and Guru),
Hm...I'd never noticed the tag on the bottom right. When it comes up on the home page, it doesn't show unless you click on the link.
Guru: Just out of curiosity, how did you end up with the digital rights to that painting, and does the physical painting still exist?? (I tried a couple searches but could not turn up a trace of the original painting.)
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Tuesday, 03/20/07 22:01:35 EST


For farriery, I would recommend Jim Keith in Tucumcari, New Mexico near the west Texas state line. www.jktools.com
Click on Events.
   Frank Turley - Tuesday, 03/20/07 22:39:37 EST


i have a most likely easy question, but, i just cant figure it out,

how would i forge these? http://www.jelldragon.com/images/rt10.jpg
they look like they woul dbe easy, but, i cant figure out if i should like, forge down some round stock, and then make sure i have the handle peice tennoned right? or,
if i cut it out, the forging would be prefered, but, since i dont have a smithing magician, or excelent hammer control, or square edges on the anvil, i dont get how to do it,
Thanks, Ps, theyre about an inch and a half tall

also, this one
seems more hand hammered, how woudl i do this, i can do everything except the hammer peice,

   Draconas__666@hotmail.com - Tuesday, 03/20/07 22:45:13 EST

Sorry, above post should be from, Cameron, Not Draconas__666@hotmail.com

   Cameron - Tuesday, 03/20/07 22:47:32 EST

Digital rights. I have an original photo of the painting that was scanned, restored to proper color, perspective, glare and cracks removed. There are a lot of MY hours in that image. Others have stolen it (claimed they did not but the image is also cropped and it was MY cropping), so I put our name on it (its hidden in several places, not just the obvious one). Copyright law does not give one copyright to such things so you have to modify them or use digital watermarks.

The original painting is in the Terra Museum of American Art, in Chicago. Note that my copy predates their owning the original.

The available image is too small to make good reproductions from it. The image on the museum site has grossly distorted color. Probably to avoid copying. . .
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 23:06:36 EST

Little Thor hammers. These are hand forged just like they look, from one piece. I would forge the handles on the end of a long bar, probably 3/8" square flattened (or maybe 1/2" round then cut off the bar and finish the heads. The other way is to start with small short stock and work from there. Takes small tongs/visegrips.

Forging very small work is a skill that is more difficult than large work. It requires more accurate blows, better vision (which I no longer have) and working very quickly.

I am going to speculate that the handles of the first set are forged on a small power hammer. The cleanness of the shoulders hints at a mechanical accuracy.

In my youth I forged 1/2" horse shoes with fullered grooves and upset heels from 3/32" welding rod. Along with these there was a 1/12th scale cross peen and a a ball peen hammer forged from 1/4" square. The handle holes in these were drilled and a wooden match stick was used for the handles. While I was making the shoes a little boy asked what I was doing and his older sister said "He's makeing a pair of pliers!" That was all you could see.

I also forged a set of Colonial style ball end andirons for a log cabin doll house. The first set were made from 1/4" square with 1/8" square third legs. At 2.5" tall they were too big and I had to make a second set 1.75" tall. The physical labor is nothing, the concentration is everything.

After getting the second pair the right size I made a poker and shovel set from squared 3/32" welding rod. The tricky part was welding on the shovel pan.

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/20/07 23:29:23 EST

Guru, I thought I was the only one: I've made horseshoes from 1/4" 316 steel as jewelry. My original plan was to use them as earrings, but they look really nice when worn on my pinky finger. I upset the ends and squared them up, then center punched divots around the piece to look like nail holes.

You're right about small forgings requiring more skill. It's much easier to hammer out 1/2" bar accurately than 3/16".
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/21/07 09:48:28 EST

Can you recommend some good background resources/articles that descirbe the history of the development of forges? I am particularly interested in why horizontal versus vertical forges might be used in a particular application.
   John Prescott - Wednesday, 03/21/07 10:23:02 EST

New Mexico Territorial Style - Guru & All - Thank you for the feed back, I'm looking forward to contacting Frank. A note: John Gaw Meem is disputed as being the father of New Mexico Style. He revered the blacksmith craft was extermely detail oriented, which was his passion cared and had extensive exposure to historic hardware, detail, which was reflected in his work. The New Mexico Territorial Syle was defined as well as other types of New Mexico historical architecture through his and others efforts, instrumental in establishing the Americain Historic Buildings Survey. In New Mexico he and others were responsible for saving historic churches in the 1920's, an important herritage of the southwest that would have been lost. Many beautiful hand drawings of wrought iron hardware, fences, gates, screens, light fixtures, etc., recording historic as well as replicated revival details are available in HABS at the Library of Congress, The John Gaw Meem Archive oF Southwestern Architecture, University of New Mexico, Special Collections, Zimmerman Library, Albuquerque and other sources. Iron signage is very light.
Sarah - I am not familiar with your fathers work or the people mentioned but how about a collage of your fathers actual work, wall hung or free standing. Open it to other smiths to propose the piece, since smiths are problem solvers. My grandfather was an Ornamental Iron Worker, from the memory of storys of his projects, his memorial would definately have a piece of the Sears Tower Handrail, hinges, latches, some of his tools, the things he made for children and people to experience..
Thanks again, this is an amazing site.
   Richard Schalk - Wednesday, 03/21/07 10:26:28 EST

Cameron. they really look like they were forged from nails to me---particularly that last one.

Ringo in the short run you need to build a firebrick or kaowool enclosure to heat with that torch. In the long run a propane burner can be scrounge-built for a couple of dollars and do a much cheaper better job.

As for books: what do you want to learn about weaponry? Metallurgy of early medieval, Sizes and weights, styles, etc?

Once you know thew basics of smithing I's duggest Hrisoulas' books "The Complete Bladesmith, The Master Bladesmith, The Pattern Welded Blade".

It sounds like you are trying to run before you know how to walk though. It can be very discouraging to have to throw all you work away because you didn't know the basics that an instructor would teach in his first class.

On tempering: both schools work: one is to heat the entire blade up to a particular temp/colour---takes a good oven/furnace that can get and hold a set temperature. The other it to heat from the spine of the blade and quench when the desired colour hits the edge with the spine being softer.

Or you can do booth! Heat in the oven for the edge and then draw back the spine further with a torch while the edge is in water.

As for being 18 and in school---talk with Patrick; he started bladesmithing while attending OSU and dealt with the problems very well indeed---having a workbench with postvise in the alcove in his dorm room that a desk was supposed to fit in was a nice touch. Of course he was exposed to the scroungers and make do folks of the MOB.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/21/07 10:54:26 EST

A slender volume entitled Creator of the Santa Fe Style, Isaac Hamilton Rapp, Architect, by Carl D. Sheppard, University of New Mexico Press, 1988 might shed some light on the question of who sired all those cute li'l buildings. Me, however, I think the style of flat roofs in a town on the western slope of the Rockies where it has been known to snow a bit now and then was developed by a roofing contractor.
   Miles Undercut - Wednesday, 03/21/07 13:51:05 EST

Weed burner forge? Harbor Freight has a weed burner for under $20 and I originally purchased it for it's intended use. But after seeing it in action, could it be used for a burner in a forge? It sounded like a jet engine when on full blast, but the "idle" looked like the jets coming out of other burner pictures I have seen, maybe a little lean in color. It's specs have a max temp of 3500F. Maybe coating the bell with ITC 100 and make an insulated brick forge? Has anybody else done this or would you not recommend it?
   Red - Wednesday, 03/21/07 14:59:54 EST

About how much does a blacksmith make in a year.
   - Samual - Wednesday, 03/21/07 15:10:34 EST

about one fifty cent piece, two quarters, one dime, two nickels and a bright shiney penny.
   - Hit & Miss - Wednesday, 03/21/07 16:01:53 EST

not unusual here in n.e. to get 30k for a set of fancy railings
   - marlin - Wednesday, 03/21/07 16:33:28 EST

Samual first of all WHAT COUNTRY? This is the *WORLD* wide web.

The question provides you with data but not with context. Perhaps what is the median income for blacksmithing in the USA or country you are in would be better.

Unfortunatly there is a large range probably between *negative* US$15-20 thousand to around US$ 100,000 with most below the US$30K line.

However there are so may types of blacksmithing so the range can be extreme and the few top of the heap may make several times what the majority of the others do.

So do you mean a bladesmith, industrial blacksmith, Artist Blacksmith, etc. Are you interested in "entry-level" jobs or absolute top of the heap jobs?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/21/07 16:34:13 EST

Marlin that has nothing to do with how much you make. I once was apprenticed to one of the top custom swordmakers in the US, swords up to US$ 13K!, two year backlog on orders, most of the time he could qualify for foodstamps....

Also I was once the sole hardware guy for a system that *netted* 3-7 *billion* US$ a year, my salary was the same as a fellow working on a system that was running in the red.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/21/07 16:38:39 EST

I have been real into working with wrought iron, but i cant scrounge enough....does anyone know where i can buy some... i saw a place called chris topp and company will they ship small quanitys? im looking for some square stock and some thick pieces of plate? any insight?
   coolhand - Wednesday, 03/21/07 17:08:02 EST

Would a smithing magician do the same job as a power hammer, for the shoulder on the thors hammer?

   Cameron - Wednesday, 03/21/07 18:06:08 EST

Wrought Iron is where you find it: There is more in some parts of the country than others but what you are looking for is OLD, OR Bridges and Fencing. Both the later were built using wrought long after mild steel became popular. This was due to the reputation for being corrosion resistant.

The problem is that most bridge components are rather large and when available they usually want the entire bridge removed, not small parts. The best parts are tension rods and tie bars. But all the structurals were wrought on many iron bridges up into the 1930's.

Many old fences including simple "wrought" fences were often 100% wrought iron. They often get scrapped.

Ship chain was wrought until the 1940's. old axels, some wagon tires ..... Lots of things.

Chris Topp is in Great Britian and they recycle wrought. Shipping would be pricey. Expect to pay $1/lb for scrap wrought in the U.S.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/21/07 18:08:07 EST

Cameron, maybe.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/21/07 18:09:20 EST

Coolhand there is usually 1" sq stock and 3/16" and 5/16" plate scrap WI available at Quad State no plate over 9" thick so you are out of luck for "thick plate" or is thick plate over 16" thick to you?

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/21/07 18:25:42 EST

I was given two stainless steel knife blanks neather of them are heat treated. How do I heat treat them and can I do it in a cole fire? The people who gave me the knife blanks did not know what kind of stanless steel they were made out of. I was told if a magned stuck to the knife blanks that it was good stainless of knifes and a magnet sticks to these two blanks.
   Jason - Wednesday, 03/21/07 18:56:00 EST

A proper spring swage would also do the trick.
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 03/21/07 19:21:54 EST

Let me correct myself- A tool similar to a spring swage but with shoulder-sets instead of swages on the end. (I've a nasty habit of calling anything with of that style a spring swage)
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Wednesday, 03/21/07 19:27:38 EST

Stainless Steel is a very broad description. There are two major branches of SS, common in the US. 300 series and 400 series. The 300 series is the high nickel and chrome stainless steels used for the very thing they are named for, resistance to staining(rusting/oxidizing) The 300 series steels are pretty much not heat treatable to increase hardness. You can gain a little hardness by cold working, which imparts a work hardened condition. The work hardned 300 series are fairly magnetic, so the magnet is not a real good test for SS.
The 400 series are steels mostly used for strenght at elevated temps. The 400 series are usually about 13Cr vs about 18% for the 300. they run from metals that get somewhat hard to the steels like 440C that is often used in knives and will get very hard. Each of the 400 series steels have a unique heat treat to get optimum hardness and tuffness.
In our valve shop we heat treated tons of 410ss every year. heat and quench in oil, then temper. This was a heat treat to gain hardness, abrasion resistance, and tuffness. 410 would not get hard enough for a mordern knife I think. The higher carbon 400 series like the 430 and the 440C are very tricky to get a good heat treat on I think, and suffer poor heat treatment by cracking.
   ptree - Wednesday, 03/21/07 19:56:41 EST

Am new to this site, and am gussing this is a help site right if not forgive me ok. my question is Scratches or nicks on the straight portion of aluminum alloy tubing may be repaired if they are no deeper than What percentage is it 10or 20
   sam - Wednesday, 03/21/07 21:42:03 EST

Sam, That is worded suspiciously like a test or homework question. The answer would depend on the situation and fial application of the tubing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/21/07 23:04:24 EST

Anyone want to answer Red's question..... kinda interested in opinions about the topic of HF weed burners for forge use myself.
   - Nippulini - Wednesday, 03/21/07 23:07:59 EST

Jason, Besides the well informed answer from ptree, see our FAQ on Junkyard Steels.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/21/07 23:08:51 EST

Weed Burners: I've seen these and heard of them used for preheating. But I have doubts about forge application. They seem to be a rather large capacity burner. Burners must be matched to the forge size they fire. In a "pilot" mode the fuel/air mixture will be moving very slow which results in flashback in forges. The infrared heat in the forge can ignite the fuel/air up in the burner so the mixture must be moving faster than the flame front velocity to prevent flash back. This means running the burner at optimum capacity or greater. That is why most forge burners are relatively small bore, to keep the velocity up. Just dumping fuel and air in a hole of any size doesn't cut it like it does in a weed burner.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/21/07 23:21:47 EST

ok i need ten pieces of ten inch square by 1/2 inch thick....not real thick in the grand scheme. what is quad state and how do i find them....im going to take a trip to the scrap yard and see if i find anything.
   coolhand - Thursday, 03/22/07 06:44:41 EST

Weed Burners: Aye. I couldn't imagine how much gas would be used at full flow, nor how much heat that would put out. It's rated for 500,000 BTU :D While test firing at 1/2 power last night, I measured the flame to be at least 4' by 6" and was LOUD. It lit a couple of stray twigs and leaves up quite quickly. Well, at least I have a new weed burner. Thanks fellas.
   Red - Thursday, 03/22/07 07:52:23 EST

i'm not much for gonig to quad state, but i'm guessing there are quite a few people here who do and would be more than willnig to help you out. As for the steel, what i would do (i don't have a torch cutter of any kind, and very little artistic skills) i would go to the local steel company and have them cut out 10 ten inches squares from 1/2" plate.
i'm sure there are better ways of doing it, and probably more cost effective ways too, i jsut don't have any cutting or grinding equipment so...
hope that helped

Andrew B.
   - Andrew B. - Thursday, 03/22/07 08:07:48 EST

The Quad-State Blacksmithing Conference, held at the Miami County Fairgrounds in Troy, OH, normally the last FULL weeking in September, is the largest event of its kind in the WORLD. It is hosted by the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil chapter of ABANA for something like 25 years now. Even larger than the typical ABANA conferences. Typically 4-5 demonstrators on introduction, intermediate, advanced, knifemaking and something say like patinas. They are somewhat renowned for a couple of acres of tailgate sellers. Some folks attend just for the tooling available and don't even watch a demonstrator.

The guy who typically has wrought iron pieces there is Keith Sommer. Far as I know he still lives in Pandora, OH. Try a telephone directory search. I have no idea if he would be willing to ship, but Keith is a really nice guy so at least ask.

Troy, OH is in SW Ohio about 25 miles north of Dayton and just off I-75. Event is predominately Saturday and Sunday morning, but some folks start arriving on Tuesday now to catch the incoming tailgate sellers.

To get a registration package (when released) you can contact them at Quad-State 07, P.O. Box 24308, Huber Heights, OH 45424-0308. Just send a postcard with name and address and ask to be put on their mailing list. You can also just show up and register at the event.

Camping and food vendors on site. Motels, etc. in local area. Centaur Forge and The Blacksmiths Depot are regulars. Chile Forge was there last year.

This year the Southeastern Blacksmithing Conference will be held in Madison, GA (about an hour or so east of Atlanta). Dates are sometime in May. It is hosted by, I believe, nine groups.

I haven't been there but have been told the Blacksmith Association of Missouri also puts on a rather nice conference. Don't know if they still do it, but at one time they would make a bonfire of long trees make into a teepee shape.

On steel plate my new stock supplier carries 1/2" stock in widths up to 12". Thus, they could likely cut out 1/2" x 10" x 10" on their bandsaw. Check around locally.

I do a lot of small item welding. I had them cut out a 1/2" x 12" x 12" plate. I then welded on a piece of angle iron underneath it. Put in my bench vise it makes a nice little welding table small enough to use visegrip-type pliers to hold stock down.

Speaking of Conferences, mark your calendar for the CSI Hammer-in at my farm near Waverly, TN for at least April 21st. The first conference last year drew about 30 people. As the result of an article on my Poor Boy Blacksmith Tools business which appeared in the monthly publication of the TN Farmers' Cooperative, I expect perhaps twice that many here this year. Saturday will be the big event day but my farm will be available before and after for folks wishing to somewhat make a holiday of it. Tailgate tool sellers would be VERY welcome.

At the present time ptee will be demonstrating wizard heads and Guru will be demonstrating powerhammer tips and techniques on my SOF&A designed airhammer. When the equipment is not in use by a demonstrator it is available for show and tell.

No charge for attendence, but a donation of an item to an iron-in-the-hat drawing would certainly be welcome.

If you would like event details you can e-mail me at scharabo@aol.com (or just click on name). I'll also put you on the e-mail list then for further event announcements.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Thursday, 03/22/07 08:47:42 EST

Weed Burners: Red, Small shop gas forges run about 40,000 to 200,000 BTU. At that gas draw rate (500,000 BTU) you would use up a 20 lb. bottle (430,000 BTU) in less than an hour. However, at that draw rate the bottle is going to freeze up and quit in about half that time. So it is good for 20 minutes or less. That is why they have the pilot light feature on them.

High draw systems use liquid propane (not gas from the bottle). These must have some way to evaporate the fuel. Hot air ballon burners use a large copper coil around the huge flame. Kilns that are liquid fueled use atomizing nozzels and the heat of the kiln evaporates and ignites the fuel. However, in this case the heat absorbed by the evaporation process reduces the maximum kiln temperature. That is OK for kilns which run at 2,000 F or less but not for gas forges.

Small single burner (3/4" or less diameter atmospheric) will run several days on a 20# bottle of propane. Two burner forges (40,000 to 60,000 BTU) will often drain a 20# bottle in a work day the problem being that toward the end of the day when the bottle is less than 1/3 full it starts freezing up. Larger bottles are needed. Most shops have 100 pound or greater bottles. However, you MAY get away with less using smaller forges or swapping out bottles. I manifolded two 30# bottles together and only got about 4 hours out of my big forge from FULL bottles. When half full they would not operate long enough to get the forge up to full temperature.

   - guru - Thursday, 03/22/07 08:58:15 EST

Wrought sizes: Most likely from a bridge you are going to get 3/4" x 6 to 8" from the larger tension bars.

Someone had wrought from a water tank. This was odd laminated stuff with the grain alternating in different directions like plywood for strength. I'm sure it is OK but it is not going to behave quite like normal wrought. However, if it is drawn out a long ways this will orient mush of the diagonal grain in the longer direction.

When looking for wrought you take what you find. You also need to remember that in the wrought era it was more common to build up a needed size or shape than to draw it down from larger stock. Welding was the rule, not the exception.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/22/07 09:09:07 EST

Max Ratio of Hammer Weight to Anvil Weight:

Hi All,

This is with respect to a hand hammer and an anvil. Just curious, there must be a ratio of anvil weight to hammer weight where a heavier hammer is not recommended or useful. Does anyone know what that might be? And what is to be expected if a heavier than recommended hammer is used: Inefficient forging?, Anvil Damage? Something Else?

   Mike Berube - Thursday, 03/22/07 11:03:04 EST

Mike - tendonitis would be my biggest worry. Too heavy & you wear yourself out lifting the hammer. Too light & repetitive stress on the elbow from too much hammering to get the job done. I have several hammers (as most of us do) to get the job done. I use a 2 lb for the majority of my work, and use a 3.5lb when I really want to move stuff around. I wouldn't worry too much about damaging an anvil and long as you don't hit the face or an edge directly with the hammer (bad things can happen).
   Red - Thursday, 03/22/07 11:38:33 EST

It was I who bought the 1929 water tower tank from the old Ohio Pennitentiary. it looks to be Byers bi-directional rolled plate but would need to be consolidated for most jobs anyway as the demolition contractor kept mangling it up and then wanting more money for the stuff he had damaged.

Paul Ailing at Quad-State generally has some of the tank for sale.

To get 10x10x.5" you either have to search the scrap stream or buy it from "The Real Wrought Iron Co LTD" and pay for it and for shipping.

Andrew, Ken if your local steel dealer has real wrought iron plate to sell tell us their names!

Wedd burners: the biggest problem using a weed burner for a forge burner is most of them are not designed to be choked down and so run *very* oxidizing and if you do juryrig a choke they don't run very well.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/22/07 11:51:18 EST

Oops, didn't mean to infer my new steel stock supplier had wrought iron. It is hot-rolled mild steel. Just intended to mention up to a certain point flat stock doesn't need to be cut out.

Paul Ailing is, I believe, a member of the Michigan Artist-Blacksmith Ass'n. Contacting them may turn up his telephone number.
   Ken Scharabok (Poor Boy) - Thursday, 03/22/07 12:14:41 EST

General Hammer to Anvil Ratio: That is 50 to 1 for hand hammers and about half that for sledges. But as noted the maximum hammer size is determined by you and YOUR conditioning. You can really hurt yourself with a 3 pound hammer if you are not used to it. A 2 pound or 1kg hammer is a good starter. When it feels light as a feather to you then move up a half pound or so.

Control is the most important aspect of using a smithing hammer. If you do not have the muscle development and skill to properly direct a heavy hammer this means you need to rethink and use a smaller hammer. This may also mean doing smaller lighter work.

That 50:1 ratio is based on a general minimum shop anvil that weighed 200 pounds and an experienced smith using a 4 pound hammer. That works out to a 2 pound hammer and a 100 pound anvil which is also a good match. When sledges over 8 pounds are used or multiple sledges used then the size of a shop anvil needs to be greater than 200 pounds.

Users of large anvils of 300 pounds and greater will tell you that they can feel the difference between working at a 350 pound anvil and a 450 pound anvil. This often translates into less physical stress and feeling less tired at the end of the day. These are ratios of 100:1 or greater.

SO. . . if you work more efficiently at 100:1 then 50:1 is certainly a reasonable goal. At 25:1 the ratio is approaching machine efficiency ratios where you do not need nearly as high a work efficiency and physical wear and tear is not directly effected by the ratio. However, as the ratio becomes lower than 10:1 you get into an area where fatigue from floor vibration starts to be a concern with large hammers.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/22/07 13:21:13 EST

Can anyone help me with a question of terminology please? I am translating a book on the history of a small forge, which then developed into a blacksmithing company and finally a metal-gratings company. My question concerns the old-fashioned practice of refurbishing ploughshares to make them sharper and better able to slice through sandy farming soils. I think the original text means that the farmer brought his shares in to the forge to have them beaten thin, or thinned, or battered, but I'm really struggling to find the right word. Can anyone help please? (urgent!)
with thanks
   - Tim Davies, London - Thursday, 03/22/07 13:39:30 EST

Can anyone help me with a question of terminology please? I am translating a book on the history of a small forge, which then developed into a blacksmithing company and finally a metal-gratings company. My question concerns the old-fashioned practice of refurbishing ploughshares to make them sharper and better able to slice through sandy farming soils. I think the original text means that the farmer brought his shares in to the forge to have them beaten thin, or thinned, or battered, but I'm really struggling to find the right word. Can anyone help please? (urgent!)
with thanks
   - Tim Davies - Thursday, 03/22/07 13:41:04 EST

Guru Hammers to Anvil Ratio:

Thanks for the info. Could you explain why the ratio is cut in half for sledges?

So, at 120lb anvil and 2.5lb hammer I am right there at just over 50:1. :-( I was hoping (with conditioning and practice) to be able to go as high as a 3.5lb hammer some day for moving bigger stuff. Would you recommend that I go no higher than 2.5lb? Or should I just try it when the 2.5lb becomes light?

   Mike Berube - Thursday, 03/22/07 14:17:03 EST

Tim, the word you looking for is probably "sharpened"
As in "the farmer brought his shares in to be sharpened"
   JimG - Thursday, 03/22/07 14:17:34 EST

Maybe Tim Davies is looking for the word "dressed"?

The farmer would bring his plowshares to the blacksmith to have the working edges dressed.

Does that make sense?

   Mike Berube - Thursday, 03/22/07 15:24:58 EST

Guru, ptree,

Where do you buy your bandsaw blades (64-1/2" Bi-Metal, variable pitch)?

I bought the Jet 5x6 saw (#414458), scored one at $290 from a local dealer, so no shipping :-)).

You guys seem to have good luck with your blades, so I'd like to buy mine at the same place (or same brand if applicable) if possible.

   Mike Berube - Thursday, 03/22/07 15:48:42 EST

All this talk about wrought iron has me curious... Would I be correct in my belief that real wrought iron would have a wood grain appearance after many years of wear and exposure? Second that RR rails were at one point made from wrought iron? If that is the case I might know where a bunch of it could be found along a grain spur of a RR line abandoned in the 40's. I know the spur line was abandoned well before the main line was though how the rail survived the scrap drives of WWII is anyone’s guess. Should all be private property now and the ranchers might sell it cheap if someone were to remove it. Maybe I should have kept that to myself until I could remove it...
   Ken Nelson - Thursday, 03/22/07 16:13:21 EST

Mike Berube,

As I've thought it through, a bigger anvil is more efficient because it ends up with the same momentum the hammer had (actually it's the hammer's change in momemtum that counds, so the more the hammer rebounds, the more the anvil ends up with, to a point).

Momentum is M*V and kinetic energy is 1/2MV^2. This means that for a given momentum, a bigger anvil will end up with a lower velocity, and therefore lower kinetic energy. The less energy that ends up in the anvil, the more is that available to move steel.

By my numbers, you're only losing a few percent of the available energy at 50:1. I'd pick the hammer I was most comfortable with regardless of what size anvil I had (within reason). Of course, I use a 1kg hammer and a 175# anvil.

My number aren't really consistent with there being a noticable difference between a 300# anvil and a 450#. If that's a real phenomenon (and in my mind human perception's always somewhat suspect), it could mean my numbers are wrong or don't tell the whole story. For example, a heavier anvil's normally more rigid, and that might have something to do with it.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 03/22/07 17:50:53 EST

Plow shares,
Maybe just a central Illinois or Midwest thing, but I always heard it reffered to as:
We took the plowshare in to be "hammered-out."
My 2 pennies worth
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Thursday, 03/22/07 18:15:29 EST

More plow shares:
"Hammered out" would also be more synonymous with "beaten thin, or thinned, or battered" if it is a translation issue?
Tim: what languages are we talking about??
-Aaron @ the SCF
   thesandycreekforge - Thursday, 03/22/07 18:17:48 EST

Tim Davies,

"Sharpened" and "dressed" are good, but it's more involved than that. The point is supposed to have two sharp corners and a slight downward curve. Metal to ground wear will radius those corners, so if there's enough metal, the smith will heat and draw out the point to gain some length, so that it can be trimmed to regain the corners. If there's not enough material, a high carbon piece was folded around the worn area and fagot welded on, then drawn out and shaped. Then there is a little grinding and smoothing. For purposes of translation, the smith is drawing out and shaping, hammering and shaping, forging and shaping. Pick your choose.

Ken Nelson,
The term "grain" can lead to confusion. Grain can also refer to the crystaline structure of iron and steel. A better word is "fibrous". The iron silicate in WI is in the form of fine, microscopic filaments. WI, rolled or hammered into a length will have filaments running lengthwise. Very early mine rails were made of wrought iron. I suspect that WW II rails are of medium or high carbon steel.

A friend made me a WI trophy buckle in which he "disturbed" the straight fibrous flow with his hammer. He put a small "knothole" in the buckle, and acid-etched the whole. Because of his treatment and his intent, the buckle did indeed have some semblance of wood grain.

   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/22/07 18:43:26 EST

Mike Berube,
I get my band saw blades at Hagemeyer.The local shop to me has an excellent guy named Mike Morrison that sells the stuff to blacksmiths at whosesale. Call him at 502-961-5930 and ask for a Lennox Diemaster II, 10 to 14 tooth variable. The also have a couple of finer blades in the Diemaster II, which is a bi-metallic, and if you want to cut thinwall, say 16 ga tube, he has a "Porta-band blade stock by Lennox that also is awesome.
Hagemeyer is a huge company that has branches all over the world, but this shop sells to the blacksmith trade in small quantitys, since I convinced them it was a good idea:) I do buy a lot of stuff for the factory.
They also sell taps and drills of INDUSTRIAL quality, and most every thing in the way of mill supplies. I even buy my gloves there. Leather palm gloves for about $.081/pair by the dozen.
   ptree - Thursday, 03/22/07 19:28:29 EST

THe description of sharpening plows by Frank Turley above I believe is what a lot of little giant hammers spent their lives doing. I own one that did that in eastern Colorado and the bottom die was beat 1/4''or more into the frame as well as some into the ram when I traded for it,that was fun to straighten out.
   - aaron craig - Thursday, 03/22/07 19:47:59 EST

Sharpening shares.
Yes, with the Little Giants, and the dies, I belive, had a tapered, truncated shape. The striking surface was fairly narrow. In parts of New Mexico, the smith worked on lister shares, which had a pointed symmetrical shape to throw a furrow both ways of the center. Sharpening shares is almost a thing of the past, since there are so many other tillage methods. There is even "no till" farming.

I visited a smith and welder in western Oregon in the 1960's. It was springtime, and he had about a dozen shares on the shop floor waiting for him and his Little Giant. He said that nobody brings a share in the winter. They all wait till spring, dagnabit.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/22/07 20:15:23 EST

No Till farming: They have been doing that here in southeastern Pa. for about 25 years. Somebody finally realised that 250 years od plowing fields had sent a lot of the topsiol down the Delaware Bay for the boats to run aground on. A little farther west and it goes down the Susquehanna and settles out in the flats off Havre de Grace. Nobody can farm it when it is under a coupple feet of water.
   - Dave Boyer - Thursday, 03/22/07 21:17:54 EST

Sure they can, Dave. Remember 'Nam?
   vicopper - Thursday, 03/22/07 23:59:50 EST

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