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 1 - 7, 2008 on the Guru's Den
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Over the years I have saved up about six hundred brass pistol casings. Just recently I've made a pattern welded knive and I wanted to put some brass fittings on. I was wandering if I could melt to casings down in my propane forge and cast some fittings. To be honest I am very ignorant when it comes to nonferrous metals. I don't even know if what I am asking is reasonable or if it could be done. Also, what would I use for a flux and are there any health concerns? THANKS
   - John L. - Saturday, 03/01/08 01:11:33 EST

I had someone comment on how my workspace "looks dangerous" because it is a little cramped and has lots of dangerous looking machinery all over the place. I replied "there's no such thing as a safe shop, just safe workers". She didnt understand until I explained that a warehouse sized shop with all the safety accoutrements abound would probably kill someone a lot faster than in my little basement shop. PPE and other gear set aside, is there such a thing as a "safe" work area? Or is safety an illusion we aspire to acheive with safe work practices?
   - Nippulini - Saturday, 03/01/08 10:17:54 EST

There are a couple of ways to achieve a taper on a lathe. One of them is with a taper attachment which are available for most lathes but often missing. I believe threads can be cut using normal methods yet incorporating the taper attachment. This may take a little tinkering as the cross slide nut is disengaged when using the taper attachment. Feed is only available with the compound screw.
(I have cut many threads over the years but have never tried tapered threads so "your mileage may vary")

Most popular lathes have a limit as to how coarse a thread can be cut, such as 4 threads per inch, 1/4" pitch, or something on that order. This may be a factor in your sculptural application.

Guru Jock has tried lots of stuff over the years.
He may have some input on tapered threads.
   - Tom H - Saturday, 03/01/08 16:50:38 EST

Safe workspaces:

Well, there are some that are more safe than others, but as you point out Nip, the worker is the first and foremost safety factor present in any shop. A crowded shop can be sofe or dangerous, depending on how it is set up and used. One of the worst situations in a small shop is that of inadequate ventilation, resulting in potentially dangerous exposures to harmful fumes or vapors. Ventilation, forced if necessary, is the answer, as is wearing proper PPE when generating fumes.

Arc welding, in a small space, generates not only fumes but dangerous actinic light. If there is more than one person present, the second person risks vision damage, of course.

Small shops often mean not enough room to safely move heavy objects, too. I have this problem in my shop, and the only solution is extreme care. The same care should be taken in a large shop, naturally, b ut the greater space at least leaves on room to jump out of the way. Only a fool gets under a load or between a load and an immovable object, but a small shop often leaves you no choice.

Sometimes you simply have to limit some activities in a small shop that you could easily do in a larger shop, in order to be safe.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/01/08 17:22:43 EST

Safe VS Unsafe shops.
Some shops are unsafe and no matter how much PPE they are still unsafe. Examples are poor egress. Say in a basement shop, with only one way out. A fire between you and the exit is bad.
A shop with poor wiring practices, say soft SO cable drapped over stuff like barjoists and hung down without strain reliefs. So cable across the floor.
Welding in too small a space with poor ventalation as Rich mentioned.

Machines that are poorly guarded
I can go on. Look a typical Little Giant power hammer in most shops. The ram and springs etc all right in the operators face, most of the time unguarded.

Yes the right attitude, PPE etc are a good start. Good planning/execution is even better.
Limited to welding in a basement shop? Only one exit? Have several good sized extinguishers located around the shop to use to MAKE a path thru the fire.
Ventilation can be installed with odds and ends.
Make those guards, make them substantial and install them. Them reinstall them every time they are pulled for maintenance.
So I would say Yes there are unsafe shops, there are safe shops. Put a safe worker in a safe shop, best. Put a unsafe worker in any shop Bad.
Other combinations are shades of grey.
   ptree - Saturday, 03/01/08 19:08:34 EST

The saying "If it isn't guarded, it shouldn't be started" rings true, for sure
   MacFly - Saturday, 03/01/08 22:10:27 EST

Tapered threads: I have used a taper atachment to cut course threads with a good ammount of taper, worked fine. Another method is to ofset the tailstock, but this only works for slight ammounts of taper. If You have acess to a template lathe or a CNC You can do all sorts of things.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 03/01/08 22:57:15 EST

On Kirkstall Forge, I did some Internet research for Richard Postman. Apparently this was a quite large plant and may have been in business from the early 1800s to perhaps around 1980. May have fallen prey to inefficiencies and Continental European competition.

Anvils may have been just one sideline in the first half of the 1800s as all I recall seeing look to be the Early English (Mousehole style). In AIA Postman noted noted he had seen a single horn, double horn and carriagemaker's anvil, so obviously they had a complete line.

I'm speculating they didn't directly export anvils to the U.S. Some may have found their way to the U.S. via Canada or some other way.

I am not totally familiar with it, but apparently England has a land-use law which says you cannot build where nothing has been built before. Provides quite an incentive to reclaim old manufacturing sites for housing.

That is what is now happening to Kirkstaff Forge. It is being converted into a mix of business (commerical) and residental, with the advantage of being on a commuter rail line.
   - Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/02/08 07:34:53 EST

Kirkstall forge (Leeds, UK) was probably the bigggest closed die hammer shop in the UK. It closed about 5 - 6 years ago. It was owned by GKN / Dana Spicer in its latter years. A lot of the work was axles for commercial vehicles etc.

I did alot of work on the hammers in there prior to it closing (and they had some pretty meaty hammers!!!! )

It was another of those 'Kirksall will never close' situations (they reconed over £100m replacement value for the plant in there). And, behold, it was closed.

The same thing happened a few years ago with 'Garringtons' in Bromsgrove, the UK's biggest closed die press shop (again dating back to Naysmith times) - closed, and a nice housing estate now.

The days of mass produced steel closed die forgings in the UK are numbered I suspect. The real busy areas are aerospace forging, authopedic, and smaller batch fast delivery work. The remaining open die forge shops are generally very busy,
   - John N - Sunday, 03/02/08 09:27:43 EST


The Bernzomatic oxy/mapp torch...Not much O2 in that little can and it doesn't go far. I have one that I use for little brazing jobs. It works fine for that but I wouldn't bother with it for any serious welding.
   MikeFerrara - Sunday, 03/02/08 09:33:03 EST

John N, Many of the big production closed die shops are closing here in the US as well. Most of the work goes to less safety/enviro concious locals where labor is cheap, and you can hire/fire at will as folks get hurt or older.
   ptree - Sunday, 03/02/08 09:51:04 EST

Gurus, Perhaps not exactly a Blacksmith question, but while I was grazzing in the local scrapyard, I was overcome with a sever case of lust for rust. In this case it was a 12" Lathe by American Tool Works Co, Cincinnatti O, USA with another tag by the Mine Smelter Supply Co of Denver, Salt Lake City and City of Mexico. It came with a bin of tooling, 3 & 4 Jaw chucks, lots of stuff (including motor and jack shaft). Needless to say I was lusty. Now that I have it in my shop, cleaned up a bit and looking good, I need some documentation on how it works, etc.
Any info is greatly appreciated. I googled it, but found not much so far. Thanks in advance. Tim in Orygon
   - Tim in Orygun - Sunday, 03/02/08 11:17:27 EST

Could you use an older style cast iron kitchen sink for part of a forge if you remove the porcelain? It's shallower than a newer style stainless sink and some have a shelf on them.
   greg - Sunday, 03/02/08 11:30:36 EST

In the really stupid burner design what does it mean by "reducer to one size down"? Does this mean it drops it from a 2 1/2 " pipe to a 1" pipe? how much do you reduce it by? Thanks
   - chemgeek - Sunday, 03/02/08 11:59:05 EST

I think I missed my response on melting brass.
   - John L. - Sunday, 03/02/08 12:40:06 EST

In pipe the sizes go

So... I would assume that dropping down one size would be 2"
   ptree - Sunday, 03/02/08 12:50:58 EST

Tim, a book like Southbend's How to run a Lathe will give you most of your answers. Sheldon also had a similar book. Engine lathe controlls are virtualy univeral. Greg, I have a forge made from a cast iron sink. It is clayed and has a hand crank and a squirrel cage. I didn't build it but it has been around for quite a while.
   John Christiansen - Sunday, 03/02/08 15:22:53 EST

Tim, As John mentioned the Southbend book is a good start. Then ANY machinist's text book will cover your lathe. The controls and functions of the classic Engine Lathe have not changed since the 1800's. If you can run an 1890 antique like I am fixing up for the anvilfire hammer-in you can run a brand new Engine lathe. About the only difference is change gears and speed change boxes are different and modern lathes have a brake on them. Tool post vary but you can still but an old fashined tool holder on a modern lathe. They are infinitely more useful especially in odd situations than the "block" type designed for carbide tooling.

See our lathe FAQ for tooling and uses.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/02/08 15:43:13 EST

Lathes and Blacksmiths: In the 1914 Sears Blacksmiths and Farriers Tools catalog there are more lathes than forges.

The Lathe is called the King of the Machine tools because it does more needed jobs than any other machine in the shop. For many years it was the ONLY machine tool in small shops other than a drill press. Next came shapers but they were replaced by the Vertical Mill which is second only to the lathe in handiness. Today most shops have one each lathe and mill.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/02/08 15:53:16 EST

Sink for forge: Depending on the size they are a little big for a fire pot and a little too deep for a forge. Its been done but it is not an ideal size/shape.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/02/08 15:55:54 EST

For those familiar with Quad-State when it was at the Studebaker Homestead, I was told Emmert started out in a garage behind the house with little more than a drill press, lathe and bandsaw. Can't remember the name of the company it is today (Precision Machine?), but it does have three sites last I heard.
   Ken Scharabok - Sunday, 03/02/08 18:25:15 EST

As a follow up to the question above 2 or 3 items, does the GURU recommend any special mix for soaking rusted parts in? I once heard of a majik one using battery acid, and gods knows what else? any Joy??
Tim in Orygun
   - Tim in Orygun - Sunday, 03/02/08 20:29:03 EST

Did I still miss the response the guru gave me?
   - John L. - Sunday, 03/02/08 22:02:50 EST

John N,

Scroll back to the top of this very page, where the "Welcome to the anvilfire Guru's Den" banner is. Click your cursor somewhere around the middle of the page. (For example, somewhere near the words "Ask the Guru any reasonable question . . . ") Press "Control+F" on your keyboard. When the search box pops up, enter the word "brass" and click "Next" or simply hit enter. You'll find plenty about casting brass.

Also see here: http://backyardmetalcasting.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1895

The problem with using aluminum cans, cartridge cases, and other items with high surface area per mass for casting is that they tend to oxidize BADLY. It can be done, but expect to produce a lot of dross.
   Matt B - Sunday, 03/02/08 23:53:56 EST

Sorry, not John N. Meant John L.
   Matt B - Sunday, 03/02/08 23:54:29 EST

Reusing cartridge "brass": sure you can melt and pour scrap brass: However a couple of things---any of them suitable for reloading would probably do better going to some one who does so. 2) Is it all brass? Check with a magnet for brass washed steel 3) miss fires---even just an unfired primer can sure give you a brown pants moment---if it doesn't throw molten/hot brass on you. 3) Water make sure that all brass that you will be adding to the melt---and you will as a crucible full of such items melts down into a very small puddle---is absolutely dry. A drop of water in a piece being added to the melting pool can mutilate you for life---if not longer! and note: if you are holding a piece above the fire, cold metal can condense water from the exhaust fumes!

Sink to forge: my first forge was an old farmhouse sink, cast iron, shallow rectangular. I put an elbow at the drain and ran a pipe drilled with 1/4" holes down the middle and drilled around a circle and punched out the center to let the pipe go out the end. Then I used a steel "ramrod" in the pipe to control the fire length and clayed up the interior to make a good firepot for charcoal. (ramrod also helps break clinker drips in the air pipe.)

I didn't remove the porcelain as the claying ket it cool so it wouldn't spall heating up or cooling down.

Used an electric blower from a scrap yard and had my first forge for less than US$2 *total*.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/03/08 13:00:33 EST

I am in the process of improving my smithy and would like to add a power hammer. With prices starting at $4000 I think I would like to build my own first. This would allow me to learn more about them as well as keep costs at a minimum. any input would be great, I.E. plans,do's and dont's, or am I completely off base.
   Sam Lee - Monday, 03/03/08 13:09:04 EST

Sam, Air hammers are the most sure fire DIY hammers to build. They are not as efficient to operate as a mechanical hammer but they are less likely to need a major redesign if something does not work.

The biggest mistake DIY builders make is in anvil mass. Ideally you would have a 15:1 anvil to ram ratio and at least nine to ten to one. This is a LOT of steel. Many modern commercial builders skirt the ideal amounts because of the high cost of iron/steel. The second thing that is often lacking in this area is foundation mass. A good solid foundation can make up for some shortness in the anvil to ram ratio but we are talking about a LOT of concrete.

Then there is the matter of quality of construction. You can spend a LOT on parts and pay a lot to have the pieces you can't make made by others and then throw it all away with poor alignment and sloppy assembly methods. Machinery, even "hammers" require accuracy and precision alignment.

The biggest mistake DIY folks make is deviating from the plan or the usual methods. There are very few who understand all the repercussions of the design mods they make. We get these questions on a regular basis. "I went by your plan exactly EXCEPT. . ." and it is always a BIG exception with no understanding of the repercussions.

Then there is the junk yard builder. They take what they find on hand and build as cheap as possible and ocassionaly get very good results. But when they do not they are not out a lot of money and usually treat it as a learning experience.

I love building my own machinery even though it is often not economically sound. If you value your time at all then commercial machinery is often much more economical than building your own. However, it seems it is in the blood of the blacksmith to do it the hard way.

I am currently getting ready for our 10th anniversary hammer-in. In the next six weeks I have to restore two antique machine tools and build two mechanical power hammers. The hammers will both be the same basic design but one will take advantage of junkyard steel and parts while the other will be built from primarily all new steel and parts. I have already spent more than the cost of a BigBLU in moving and setting up machinery and preparing the shop for the job. . . I've bought new 1.5 HP motors for the old machines (one had a questionable 3PH and the other none) and two for the power hammers. I've got a pallet load of motors and parts. . . and still have to wire the shop for welding and machine outlets.

As they say, It's only money. . . But maybe when I am done we will have a working shop for anvilfire demos and R&D projects.
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/08 21:24:19 EST

Rusted parts: Everyone has their favorite. A lot depends on the degree of the rust. In many cases all you can do is heat to a red to reduce the hydrous iron oxide to something molecularly smaller then apply penetrating oil and try again. Heated fasteners should be scraped and replaced with new of the proper grade.

Note that penetrating oils are NOT rust removers. These soak into crevices and help reduce the friction between parts. Some penetrating oils are chemically active having acids in them that help break down some of the rust. Liquid Wrench is one of these. A popular favorite is called B-laster (blaster). I use WD-40 because it does not contain acids. You can apply it and forget it and the part will not get worse. Those with acids need follow up repeat applications and a plan to disassemble NOW.

One tool I currently lack is a power impact wrench. Mine finally wore out and I have not replaced it. The thousands of non damaging blows combined with penetrating oil can disassemble things that would break wrenches or round corners off fasteners otherwise. You can do this manually with a heavy wrench and a hammer but it takes lots of patience and perseverance.

A trick to removing stuck nuts with rounded corners is to weld a much larger one on (one that fits over the smaller) and then use the larger wrench. It will either come off or the threaded part will break. This method worked great on my Dad's lawn mower where the grass friction had rounded the corners off the nuts to where they were impossible to remove otherwise.

For removing rust chemically there are various chemicals, mostly acids. Vinegar and citric acid are two of the common organics used. Phosphoric acid is another. Various mixtures with sulphuric acid in them are also used. All require attention to the soak time as you can end up removing much more than rust. NEVER, EVER use these on things with black oxide finishes such as high quality drill bits or gun parts. . . I lost a life time collection of drill bits to an hour soak in a proprietary rust remover called "oakite".
   - guru - Monday, 03/03/08 21:48:01 EST

Regarding rusted parts here we have to salvage a lot of material literally from a junk pile. Most of it has been out in a very wet climate for anything upto years. Whenever possible Sean nad I simply light a wood fire and just leave the part to soak. It then, usually, comes apart by hand. The slow soaking heat avoids damage to the part. My latest job (don't laugh) is to make some ballet bars and anchor them to the wall. It will all be 2" water pipe which is currently completely siezed. So we will probably have an afternoon at it with the fire, a coffee or two and maybe even cook a couple of steaks out there.
   - philip in china - Monday, 03/03/08 22:10:36 EST

Phillip in China, Don't cook steaks over a fire with Galvanized pipe, they will taste really bad and the air from overheated galvanized will make you sick:)
Are you sure that these were water pipe and not some other use, perhaps chemical piping?
   ptree - Tuesday, 03/04/08 00:35:12 EST

How about some heavy repousse work.


   Hudson - Tuesday, 03/04/08 00:40:52 EST

Ptree, Don't worry about me galvanising my alimentary canal. I am too safety conscious for that. Yes it is water pipe from a now obsolete site wide central heating system. That is also where my hundreds of cast radiators came from. Still not made the cupola but haven't given up on the idea yet.
   - philip in china - Tuesday, 03/04/08 08:02:59 EST

I am designing a large copper counter top for a client. My question is about welding copper. One design option requires a 100% penetration fillet weld of 10 gauge
(96 oz) plate to a 3/8" by 2" flat bar. Running into problems with the flat bar as a heat sink. I need the appearance of solid copper so solder won't work, ( I assume).
   wadco - Tuesday, 03/04/08 10:15:57 EST

wadco: Copper is very easy to TIG weld. Sometimes pre-heating helps, but 100% on 10ga shouldn't be any problem.
   - grant - Tuesday, 03/04/08 13:49:37 EST

American Tool Works Lathe

Tim- I own a 14" model. The serial number should be on the right hand side of the bed just above the feed screw. If you have the serial #, you can call Bourne and Kock in Rockford IL and they should be able to date the machine for you. They do sell some limited material for this machine, but you can find quite a bit on the 'net. Go to practicalmachinist.com and search there for links to a site managed by R. Vannetta. He has lots of old documents. There is also a yahoo group for owners of these machines. One member, Greg M has a cd of documents he can send you.
Good luck.

   Patrick - Tuesday, 03/04/08 14:41:25 EST

wadco: Re-reading your post I see now that you are welding to 3/8 bar. That will be a real heat-sink. You will probably need a water-cooled TIG set-up for the current required. Also pre-heating the weld area with a torch will help a lot.
   - grant - Tuesday, 03/04/08 19:01:08 EST

Simple but hard quest, Where do you buy coal in the Beaverton, Portland oregon area? I have been trying really hard and have come up with dead ends of buying coal. Help! Were do I go?
   Michael - Wednesday, 03/05/08 00:30:20 EST

Michael, Feed stores sometimes import coal into your area for horseshoers. You might also inquire of the Northwest Blacksmiths Association: www.blacksmith.org.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/05/08 10:01:52 EST

Michael, Coal is getting difficult enough to get in enough places that you may want to consider converting to charcoal. OR since both will have to be ordered and shipped look at ordering on-line. While shipping is high (and increasing rapidly) the cost to UPS coal is still offset by bulk transportation costs.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/08 13:38:46 EST

More coal buying. . . NEVER, purchase "a ton" to try out. If you get really bad coal (and there is a lot out West) then you are stuck with a ton of useless coal. . . Get a 40-50 pound bag or a bucket full and test it.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/08 14:22:40 EST

Hello Guru:
I am a novice blade smith... I am doing ok with knives, but dealing with swords is another battle all together... can you give me some ideas and methodologys on the beveling and grinding of them? what methods can be utilized for stock removal methods? along with forging...
   wvblade - Wednesday, 03/05/08 14:36:42 EST

At the moment there are a good many anvils being offered on eBay. Supply and demand means there might be some bargains there.

On anvils, I had heard from a couple of sources Harbor Freight retail outlets had stopped selling the Russian export 110 lb anvil. Am wondering how many may have come back for a refund. I haven't seen one listed on eBay I recall for several weeks now.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/05/08 15:21:30 EST

WVBlade; have you read all of James Hrisoulas' books? "The Complete Bladesmith, The Master Bladesmith, The Pattern Welded Blade". Lots of good info on stock removal profiling, beveling and grinding because you have to stock remove after forging! And for fancy patternwelded blades you may do a majority of stock removal so as to not mess up the pattern by forging to shape.

I could read and type the information here, but at my $/hr rate you could buy the books, a triphammer, anvil and a bader cheaper.

   Thomas P - Wednesday, 03/05/08 15:49:20 EST


Your page shows:

String Length = 2b + 2c

Which should be:

String Length = c + c + (b-c) + (b-c) = 2c + 2(b-c) = 2b

When you have the string stretched along the longest direction
of the ellipse, (the string is laying on the major axis) you can
actually see it because it goes from the edge of the ellipse to
the first focus and back to the second focus. So it goes the distance
from 1st focus to 2nd focus plus to the edge and back to the 2nd focus...
so it's twice the distance between the foci plus twice the distance
from each focus to the edge

I actually found the problem when I tried to make a 20 x 40 cm ellipse
and the string was way too long.
   Mark Kanzler - Wednesday, 03/05/08 15:59:18 EST


Information is appreciated...

   wvblade - Wednesday, 03/05/08 16:18:23 EST

Wadco: A few more thoughts on your question; if you have a very long weld, you will need to tack probably every inch or even less, warpage will be your biggest enemy. Skip around and make small welds until you have the entire joint welded. DO NOT weld from one end to the other. Clamp a bar behind the weld to prevent local warpage. Remember: the weld shrinks the most, so peening the weld is the best way to relieve warping. High current makes the least distortion (I know, sounds backwards). This is because you can heat it quicker without pouring a lot of heat in over a longer time.
   - grant - Wednesday, 03/05/08 17:19:47 EST

Ovals, Hmmmmm. . . will have to look at that. What I used worked but maybe I missed when I made the drawing.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/08 17:52:32 EST

Hey Folks
I'm working on a railing design and the Client wants a 1/2 round hand rail. Does anybody know where to buy half round stock, mild steel. Its less than 20' so it could be shipped.
Or how would you make 1/2 round stock? I am in Northern CA.
have a good day
   blackbart - Wednesday, 03/05/08 17:55:06 EST

Blade Tech: wvblade, Blade making in the modern world is grinding intensive. Belt grinders are the rule and most shops have more than one. When heavy grinding is done the HP goes up and so does the cost. Generally you cannot have enough of these machines in your shop. It also pays to put them where the dust is not an issue.

You can buy them, build them and buy used ones.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/08 18:03:01 EST

Half Round: Blackbart, This is easy on a power hammer in the range of 100 to 300 pounds. A half round die, and a piece of round stock that fills the die and off you go. A long re-heat furnace and a rolling mill will work in production. . .

Hammer dies for this need to have a smooth lead in and it helps to have a long support behind the dies to prevent twisting and curving. However, when you are done you will probably have to go to the press and do some straightening. For a low production run mild steel dies work FINE.

Small half round is available for farriers to make shoes. Centaur used to sell it. A search on google using "half round steel bar" brought up numerous commercial sources. However, I have found that many so-called stock catalogs are actually wish lists. . .
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/05/08 18:31:48 EST

How to repair socket chisel sockets? I have several woodworking socket chisel that have been used without a handle. The large diameter of the socket has been struck with a hammer causing it to mushroom. On others the socket has been cut down in length. These are old chisels of good quality.

Thank you for help.
   NW Hurlburt - Wednesday, 03/05/08 22:40:47 EST


I ordered some 1" (flat side) half-round from the local welding shop (Coffee Hill Welders, bless their tolerant hearts) for a special project. As I remember, it cost multiples of bar stock. It was imported, and then had to be shipped to Maryland from North Carolina. (The tough part was swaging it down to half-oval for sled runners.) It's out there, but it's a special order, and I don't know if it comes in handrail size. So, once you get a price, you have to ask yourself if the "game is worth the candle?"

Warm and clear on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 03/05/08 22:47:12 EST

Old Socket Chisels: NW, This is a typical restoration job. First you evaluate what you have. Then if there is enough material the socket would be reworked back to original shape by heating it in the forge and working it with a hammer over a mandrel. Care in heating would be necessary to prevent over heating the working parts. Those without enough material would be trimmed then replacement sockets made and welded on. In both cases the tools would need lots of refinishing and perhaps even turning in a lathe. It would be an expensive job and the finished tools while good working tools would have little or no collector's value (at least until the repairs were also antique).

Almost anything made of metal can be repaired. It is simply a matter of how much you want to invest in the project. Occasionally these are profitable jobs, most often they are exercises in love of old things, and often they devalue what MAY have been collectible as-is but not after.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/08 01:04:45 EST

half round is sold by
bayshore metals on napoleon in san francisco. they also have half-oval.
   brian kennedy - Thursday, 03/06/08 02:22:47 EST

For half-round also check with Centaur Forge - one of Anvilfire.com advertisers.
   Ken Scharabok - Thursday, 03/06/08 07:23:01 EST

On the oldest socket chisels the socket will be low carbon wrought iron, a bit trickier to weld to but no problems with preheat/postheat as it doesn't have enough carbon to harden in a HAZ.

In general if you like the chisels you probably want to try to keep the edge from losing it's temper as it will be a guessing game to restore it to what you liked.

Often the best way to go is to grind open the socket with a dremel tool to avoid losing anymore length and make a handle that fits the new configuration.

I have a special bic I use to try to recover sockets with as it's much smaller and less steeply conical than the anvil horn.

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/06/08 12:17:09 EST

To protect chisel blade tempers, I will wrap the blade with a wet cotton rag and while heating and working, I will occasionally pour a little water on the rag.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/06/08 12:58:13 EST

Hello, I'm having trouble with air bubbles in my castings. Can I make a homemade hydrogen degasser using common found materials or is there no way?
   - John L. - Thursday, 03/06/08 15:08:25 EST

straight razors and crampons any adice templates in making them
   acscott - Thursday, 03/06/08 15:45:17 EST

On the ellipse equations:
Try a 20 x 40 ellipse (I use centimeters).
Try the string length the same as the length (width)
of the ellipse (40 cm).
Might try a 10 x 30 ellipse too (30 cm string length).
   Mark Kanzler - Thursday, 03/06/08 16:09:15 EST

I am just getting into heat treating, and there is one term that has always confused me: what exactly happens when one says a blade "loses its temper"? As I appreciate it, this happens when a blade is overheated in use (or abuse) as when an insufficiently lubricated drill bit heats up and turns blue, resulting in partial annealing or normalization, or loss of hardness. Is this what happens? If so, wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the steel is OVERtempered, or loses its HARDNESS rather than temper? Sorry if this sounds like technical nitpicking, but I am trying to understand hardening, quenching and tempering, and this loss of temper terminology is throwing me off.
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 03/06/08 17:01:07 EST

Air Bubbles in Castings: John, Probably not. However, bubbles in cast metal are caused by more than gas in the metal. Steam and combustion gasses in your sand will do it. If plaster casting then you have to calcine VERY well and have the mold hot when you pour. In sand you need porosity to let gases escape. Many mold makers poke dozens of holes in the sand using a piece of coat hanger wire or welding rod (while the pattern is in place). These do not need to break through to the casting. They will relieve steam and gas pressure in the mold.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/08 17:09:38 EST

I have not heard that before but it might have to do with the literal meaning of the word temper, as in the steel looses it's characterestic. But anyways what it's supposed to mean is that it looses it's hardness.
   Nabiul Haque - Thursday, 03/06/08 17:10:23 EST

Peter, You are correct on both counts. However, the common language of "losing its temper" has to do with the whole of the heat treating process being called "tempering" by the uneducated public and even many craftsfolk. Thus losing hardness is losing temper. . .
   - guru - Thursday, 03/06/08 17:12:14 EST

Temper is theoretically achieved by re-heating hardened tool steel to a certain temperature and soaking it a certain length of time according to the intended use of the tool. Different heats achieve different results. Overheat the tool after it has been tempered and it loses that particular temper. Sooooo... it's lost its temper, no? Of course, it all boils down to what you mean by the isness of is, as that great Jesuitical semanticist Wild Willie pointed out.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/06/08 19:25:05 EST

And Bach's "the well tempered clavier" how did he get a furnace big enough for it?

   Thomas P - Thursday, 03/06/08 19:31:34 EST

Peter Hirst,

Losing it's temper means that the tool is at the incorrect temper for its end use. If you temper a cold chisel to full blue, as is most often done, and you create friction heat against a grinding wheel, say to a gray/green, you no longer have the proper temper for the tool. It has lost its correct or proper temper. It is now "softer" than it should be.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 03/06/08 19:41:46 EST

Thomas-- Bach, unfettered as he was by the dreary limitations of us ordinary mortals, could do anything.
   Miles Undercut - Thursday, 03/06/08 20:22:13 EST

I think of it this way -- if a person loses his temper, he snaps. In anything like normal use, a tool can't lose its temper (return to its fully hardened state). But if it somehow did, it would snap.
   Mike BR - Thursday, 03/06/08 21:50:07 EST

Peter Hirst My shop is in Yarmouth. If you want to meet sometime, (my place or yours) I'd be glad to make a few tools with you. It is so much easier to learn it that way. Give me a call if you want. 508-280-8807.
   John Christiansen - Thursday, 03/06/08 21:56:25 EST

Guru: Thank you for the info on power hammers. It sounds like an excellent project, could recommend a source for plans or good book?
   Sam Lee - Friday, 03/07/08 00:51:35 EST

Guru, Frank and all: thanks for the clarification; "wrong temper" makes sense. And thanks for the Forum: met another
Cape blacksmith as a result.
   Peter Hirst - Friday, 03/07/08 08:45:11 EST

Mike.. nice analogy but I think its more direct about the wording..... how angry have you ever gotten while working a tool and you lose the temper on it? Especially a tool that you spent hours making?
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/07/08 08:51:23 EST

Power Hammer Info: Sam, There is no book on building a power hammer other than an engineering degree plus a few years in the industry. There IS a couple books that are historical references to the power hammer by Douglas Freund. See our review of pounding out the profits. This book is on mechanical hammers only but he has one on air hammers. There is a book on Little Giants. Again this is mostly an historical reference. I cannot recommend many of their repair methods and their theory of operation is entirely wrong.

There are plans available from ABANA for an air hammer. More air hammers have been built from this plan than any other. However, it's recommendations for anvil mass are very low. You can get plans for the Tire Hammer from Clay Spencer of NC but his web page is not up and there is no mention on the NC-ABANA web site . . . Appalachian Blacksmiths association sell plans for the "Rusty". None of these plans are for what I would call a professional design. All assume a lot of junk yard content.
   - guru - Friday, 03/07/08 10:37:21 EST

Okay, here it is... have fun with it, use it as a wallpaper, print it out and stick it in yer shop, do whatever ya want... its for real!

   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/07/08 13:37:50 EST

Looking at a WM Parker Attercliffe 123 anvil and wondered if anyone knew the type and quality of it. It is said to be from the 1800's. Thanks to any that can reply.
   keith - Friday, 03/07/08 17:02:01 EST

Nips Fortune cookie: It should read "It's better to be the hammer than a Chinese anvil" My version made in regard to someones comment that an anvil will outlast many hammers, or something to that efect.
   - Dave Boyer - Friday, 03/07/08 23:36:21 EST

keith: That WM Parker Attercliffe anvil on eBay is very likely from about 1820-1850. There are very few of them in the U.S, which indicates they may not have been exported, but rather found there way to the U.S. in some manner. I suspect construction is the classic build-up technique where they started with a core of WI, then added on the feet, horn, heel and then top plate. What makes this one unusual is the ATTERCLIFFE on it. I Googled it and it is a suburg of Sheffield. Typically they read POND FORGE. Quality should be similar to a Mouse Hole anvil of the same period and style. The 1 2 3 indicates a weight of around 171 pounds, which is a nice weight for general purpose usage. Understand what the shipping charges will be before purchasing though.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/08/08 06:25:58 EST

Attercliffe is a very run down area of Sheffield. It is a former industrial zone where there were thousands of factories and workshops working steel. In those days almost all the high quality cutlery for most of the world was made there. It would be only a few miles from Pond Forge which would have been more towards the city centre.

Dave, when I get round to it I will post some pics of the chinese anvil we used here for a couple of months. I think a decent hammer and a strong smith would get through a 150 pound Chinese ASO in a week if not less.
   - philip in china - Saturday, 03/08/08 07:50:59 EST

"The old anvil laughs at many a broken hammer."

"When you are the hammer, strike; when you are the anvil, bear."

   Frank Turley - Saturday, 03/08/08 11:51:27 EST

Whether the rock hits the pitcher, or the pitcher hits the rock, its gonna be bad for the pitcher.

Sancho Panza
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 03/08/08 18:24:58 EST

Finish for Fireplace Crane:

I've pretty much finished the forging and cold work on the fireplace crane for Grey Havens. Since my wif wanted it to fold back along one side wall, I even put on a pivoted arm extension so that it can go across the grate, but fold back when not in use. Now, the question is: how do I finish it? Christi prefers simple "high-heat black" paint on everything (a late 20th century traditionalist if ever there was one) but I think that the S-hook or trammel running along the top of the arm would result in paint in the stew during those rare events (God(s) willing) when the power goes out for extended periods. I'm open to suggestions.

Warm, then rainy, then windy, then windy and rainy again, then really windy and cold on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.longshipco.org
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 03/08/08 21:48:22 EST

Bees wax sauce, then let it burn on, sorta like seasoning an iron pan
   Peter Hirst - Saturday, 03/08/08 22:21:42 EST

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