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, 2009 on the Guru's Den
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Feature resembling a plate on 1 piece cast anvils: This is proper design on a cast anvil if the edges are to be milled after casting. On an ASO cast with soft iron, however, there is little point to the entire anvil, let alone bothering to finish the edges.
   - Dave Boyer - Saturday, 02/28/09 23:43:01 EST

Back from 2 days on the road - Dan Boone's Pasture Party.

David's Sucker Rod: First response is, why dose everyone think:

1) Sucker rod is tool steel (it is NOT),
2) Sucker rod is sufficiently hardenable for X purpose.
3) All sucker rod is the same.

It is junk yard steel. It will vary according to age, application, manufacturer. . . See our FAQ on Junkyard steel. Until you have made a determination of what it is it is just more old rusted iron, not blade steel, not spring steel, not tool steel. . just old iron.

If you can't figure it out well enough then buy new steel of known pedigree.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/01/09 00:50:31 EST

Faux Plate Anvil: Dave is correct and I have detail drawings of English anvils requiring the top 2" or so of the side to be machine finished. This would require a machining allowance (never shown on drawings) to make it flush to the side of the anvil. This one looks like is MAY have been machined to near flush but is too rusty and dirty to tell.

To the best of my knowledge no one made a plated cast anvil in England and no one makes them in modern times. Modern faux plate anvils have a very distinct step or the side that is occasionally machined to heighten the effect but they are still un-plated and usually ASO's. A cast steel anvil with a distinct side step is an unfinished anvil (some finishing required).

So, a step looking like a faux plate is either phoney sales hype (no matter what quality anvil) OR an unfinished anvil (no matter what the type). In either case it is the result of slopiness OR ignorance. But if a machining allowance was given it would probably not be machined 100% flush in order to prevent a ragged line OR undercut.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/01/09 00:52:29 EST

brazing carbide

i am making a boring bar and cutting tool for cutting internal threads. i'd like to take a small piece of carbide such as from an old indexable insert, regrind it to my thread cutting tool, and braze it to a flat milled on the end of the boring bar.

i'm well practiced at brazing steel and brass, but i've never brazed carbide. can the carbide be "burned" as HSS would (brought to a heat that takes the useful hardness out). do i need to do any post-brazing treatment to the carbide to prevent excess britlness or other negatives? anythings i need to know for dealing w/ brazed carbide?
   - Ty Murch - Sunday, 03/01/09 02:47:50 EST

I hate to feed a myth, but steel does, of course, contain carbon, and that carbon has to come from somewhere. Generally, that's either from coke or charcoal in a blast furnace, or from organic material packed around wrought iron and held at heat to make blister steel. I won't try to explain the processes involved, but the information's readily available.

Theoretically, you could use carbon from a specific source for either purpose. It would make no difference whatsoever in the quality of a sword or anything else made from the resulting steel, but you could do it.
   Mike BR - Sunday, 03/01/09 09:51:36 EST

Ty Murch, we made many thousands of brazed carbide tools at the valve shop. I watched this process many times. They used blank carbide slugs or preforms. There was a cut pocket for the carbide. They glassbead blasted both parts, used a standard blazing flux, and owy/actleyene tourch. The carbides were always ground to final shape after.

At the axle shop they made many brazed tools as well, the main difference is they used an induction heater to braze on the carbides.

When in college I toured a carbide tool maker in Lexington KY V.R. Wesson. They brazed on inserts in the factory with Induction, and did not have any process post braze to heat treat the carbide.

To my knowledge the carbides never required any post braze heat treatment.
   ptree - Sunday, 03/01/09 10:20:12 EST

Ty Murch
ptree is right again (again? isn't he always right?) The brazing heat should not be hardly anywhere near what might hurt the carbide. I have made many a form tool for screw machines by using an 'E-Z Flow' type brazing product that sort of looks like brass shim stock, (but it is not the exact same thing). And follow ptree's steps, glass bead or sand blast, normal brazing procedures, (sort of like 'sweating' plumbing. Don't heat the brazing material, heat the item and let the heat transfer do the work). Often the tool is shaped after brazing but in your application I assume the tool position can be adjusted so you should be able to finish it beforehand if you want to.

Sounds like you are working on that vise screw threading project.
Seriously, keep us informed as you progress. Some of us old chip heads (that's REAL chip heads, not computer geeks) love to see you guys learning the real machining thing. Good Luck
   - Tom H - Sunday, 03/01/09 10:57:37 EST

Carbide tiped boring bar: On of the worker in our shop needed a large boring bar. You he took a commercial cutter with the insert brazed on and a large piece of steel bar and just arc welded the shank of the tool to the bar. Viola' done in seconds. . .

In most lathe work you are better off with top quality HSS lathe bits than carbide. Carbide cannot have as fine an edge put on it, requires more tool pressure (lots more flexing on a boring bar) and tends to chip on interuppted cuts. Carbide is used when cutting difficult steels and in high production (very fast cutting). Its biggest advantage is that it comes in replaceable inserts that can be changed without disturbing a machine setup.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/01/09 12:04:25 EST

Guru, at the valve shop we often bought ready made Sandvik boring bars with the shortest shank and cut the shanks off to make many other tools, often by welding the insert end to a long shank as you suggest. In fact I have a collection of the cut off shanks. I am not sure what kind of steel, but it makes the best, non-mushrooming drifts for driving stuck pins and the like of anything I have ever found. I have also used them to good effect as hot work tools like eye punches.

I would say that my home lathe is equipped with HSS tooling. BUT, I don't have coolant. On a coolant machine, of rigid nature, with the correct speeds and feeds carbide tooling will outperform HSS hands down. Interupted cuts were an everday thing in our valve shop as we were cutting forgings from drop hammers! Tolerences were huge on the forgings and it was not uncommon to peel 0.090" from one side of a round boss prior to touching the other side. We used M-42 in the screw machines mostly as they were too old and slow turning to use carbide at a speed that would profit, as well as being oil coolant machines. They had to be oil as the gearboxes and coolant shared the same fluid. Not be on purpose design, but by design that in the early 1900's assumed oil and did not make much effort to seal the gearboxes from the machining side. These were Conomatics.
The newer equipment we ran carbides on, both brazed and inserted. To use a carbide to good result one must have the right grade and design from an almost unlimited varity. For a job shop running all sorts of stuff in one offs, HSS still has a real place. Set up in that shop to run several hundred to several thousand a year of something and Carbide will pay.
For carbide to really perform one must wind the speed up, and provide enough cooling action to cause the chips to break and to not weld to the carbide and well as enough lubricity to yeild lower friction at the cut. Very difficult to achieve with oil, but the water based coolants can utilize the huge cooling effect of the water changing phase to steam, absorbing huge comparitive amounts of heat VS oil.
One of the reasons coolants using oil emulsions in water get rank is the heat. These coolants usually are at 95+F when running, and the concentration will increase if water is not added back to maintain the correct Ph and oil concentration that yeilds a bad living enviroment for the bacteria.
   ptree - Sunday, 03/01/09 14:47:30 EST

For the Austrailian Blacksmith Association Tree Project to memorialize those lost during the recent fires they ask that the gum leaves be made out of stainless steel or copper. I have never forged stainless steel and imagine that many types would be difficult to work with. What would be the best type to use? Can you help me source 3/8 or 1/2 round or square stock?

   Tim Mann - Sunday, 03/01/09 16:57:44 EST

Forging Stainless Steel: Tim, Sorry your post or mail go overlooked. 304 stainless is the most common grade and most commonly forged. You want to work HOT as it becomes stronger very rapidly as it cools and also work hardens. That is about all there is to it. Some folks complain about how hard it is to forge but I never noticed that much difference.

When finished it can have the loose scale wire brushed off and tight scale or discoloration left on (blue black). Then you can use sandpaper to bring out the highlights. OR you can descale and passivate in acid (strong citric is commonly used) then bright finish the whole.

Not sure how big of leaves you are working on but larger stock is better. It is always easier to spread the larger stock and reduce the stem. As soon as a short stem is reduced it draws out quickly.
   - guru - Sunday, 03/01/09 18:15:09 EST

I have a 3x6 thick kindof hard forklift fork and i want to cut it to take it camping to make a knife the knifemaking unplugged way, anywhoo i have a HF industrial chopsaw and was wondering if I went slow and had extra blades could i cut it if a went slow and gave motor rests?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Sunday, 03/01/09 20:43:50 EST

Jacob Lockhart,

If that's an abrasive cutoff saw, it will work fine without any babying. In fact, if you go too slow, you risk glazing the disc and then it won't cut worth a darn. When cutting someting really thick like that fork tine, you may need to stop after a couple of minutes to let both the saw and the work cool down a bit. Heat is the real enemy of motors with brushes, so don't push your luck.

If you do inadvertently glaze the disc, use a diamond grinding wheel dressing tool to cut the glaze off the edge and you're back in business.
   vicopper - Sunday, 03/01/09 21:01:23 EST

Ty Murch: Carbide can be brazed with regular brazing rod, but silver solder works better because it flows better, use it if You can get it. If You can't glass bead the carbide, grind it with a green wheel to roughen the surfaces that will be brazed. There are many grades of carbide, C5, C6 or C7 should be fine, C2 is rather brittle by comparison.

On smaller diameter boring bars I made many by milling the end of the bar to 1/2 of its diameter and brazing the TOP of the carbide bit to the underside of the step. This is not needed in larger shanks, but it is an easy way to get the cutting edge on C/L and still have some shank atached to the carbide. Carbide isn't great in tension, but belive it or not, this method works.

Don't be afraid to use a sharp edge and positive rake with carbide if You are taking light cuts. The smoother the edge on the carbide, the better it will hold up. A diamond lap can be a big help.

Having said all this, You are probably better off with a HSS toolbit for cutting internal threads as they are a lot more forgiving.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/01/09 23:47:13 EST

Jacob Lockhart:

We cut our Fork Lift anvils with an angle grinder and thin disks, basically a smaller version of the same technology in that HF chop saw. I expect it will work just fine for you. The only problesm I've ever had with those saws are [a] over heating, and [b] blade alignment under pressure. You've already covered the first one with frequent rests for the motor. Stay out of the direct path of the blade and you'll be fine for the second concern.

Specific to cutting something that heavy, be careful because the HF chop saw has a WEAK base and may not hold the weight of a fork [~180lbs for mine]. I'd suggest resting the weight of the fork LAYING DOWN on blocks of wood the same height as the saw base and having at least one extra person to hold the fork in place. You do NOT want to worry about running the saw and being injured by a moving fork.


DO NOT cut the fork standing like we did, that was unnecessarily dangerous and stupid.

   Mike/Marco - Sunday, 03/01/09 23:52:46 EST

Jacob Lockhart: Use the softest bonded "Fast Cut" wheel You can get. Stand the fork up so that You are cutting the shortest distance through the material, even if You must cut from both sides. Your machine will be at maximum capacity or a bit above with 3" of wheel contact. If You turn the fork end for end repeatedly while cutting, the arc of the wheel will keep the contact area lower, and the time spent changing it will alow the motor to cool off. You can achieve the same by using a spacer between the work & fixed jaw of the machine vise. If You don't have a diamond dresser a carborundum dressing stick will work to remove the glaze from the wheel. Stay away from hard bonded or "Long Life" wheels, they are made for cutting steel studs, EMT and other thin stuff.
   - Dave Boyer - Sunday, 03/01/09 23:58:26 EST

"Long Life" wheels

You don't want these on angle grinders either. While the DO last a long time they don't cut worth a darn. Soft, faster cutting wheels save time and money. Grinding, especially on torch cuts is a slow noisy hated job. Speeding it up takes away some of this pain. Note that the wheel that comes with many grinders is one of these. Trade it in ASAP.

Remember that the harder the material the softer the wheel. On my surface grinder the wheels for tool steel are porous delicate things that wear rapidly. But is you use the harder wheels intended for soft steel they will glaze and, cut rough and then stop cutting in short order. Using the right wheel is critical in the grinding business.
   - guru - Monday, 03/02/09 00:55:57 EST

Snow Day in the South:

Its been many years since we had a reqal snow in the South. We had 8 to 10" in the Virginia Carolina area last night. As is usual with Southern snows it is melting rapidly. Having the sense to stay put it has not been a problem for us.

But its been a nice goof off snow day with the grandchildren.
   - guru - Monday, 03/02/09 12:53:48 EST

Maggiano, *not* a simple quick question!

Folding "steel" for swords was done in western Europe mainly before the year 1000 and for the same reason the japanese did it: to get a more uniform and higher quality metal to forge swords from. Especially it helps lower the silicate content, equalize the carbon content and decrease the size of any inclusions---all a problem with bloomery made starter metals. Note that the japanese starting with extremely high carbon contents also used this as a method of *lowering* the carbon content of the finished metal.

As refining in Europe advanced pattern welding was no longer needed and as each fold and weld can *introduce* problems such as welding flaws, inclusions, decarburization, etc; starting with a better metal might get you further than messing with a more impure one.

However there is a caveat to this and that is the case of blister steel being processed into shear steel in western Europe---where carburized wrought iron was stacked and welded to help equalize carbon content. Sort of a folding process but it was only repeated a couple of times and shear steel was mainly an industrial revolution process.

Now Wootz steel, a crucible process of steelmaking done in central asia in medieval times did use some "special ingredients" to get the right carbon content and carbide formers into the resultant ingot.

The big thing in medieval and renaissance times in Europe was what you *quenched* the steel in; everything from Theophilus' "urine of a red headed boy or urine of a goat fed ferns for three days" if the other was not available. (written down in 1120CE) to all the weird ones listed in "Sources for the History of the Science of Steel" from the renaissance---worm water and radish juice anyone? These don't really help the steel anymore than the basic water, brine, oil quenches---but they believed they did. Look at the legends of the quenching power of the river Tagus in Spain or the "urban legends" about quenching swords in humans! (terrible idea, now fresh blood will work as a weak brine quench but is harder to work with than plain old urine. Using people is right out---guarenteed to produced a warped and twisted blade due to uneven cooling.

   Thomas P - Monday, 03/02/09 15:42:56 EST

Just getting started and interested. Found an old forge and some tools. Got the forge operational, mostly tlc cleaning and pour one babbit bearing and make new shaft. Looking for some answers on age and other useful facts. Appears to maybe be home made. Willing to email pictures to anyone with any interest thank-you, scottie
   - Scott Hjetland - Monday, 03/02/09 15:56:14 EST

Just getting started and interested. Found an old forge and some tools. Got the forge operational, mostly tlc cleaning and pour one babbit bearing and make new shaft. Looking for some answers on age and other useful facts. Appears to maybe be home made. Willing to email pictures to anyone with any interest thank-you, scottie
   - Scott Hjetland - Monday, 03/02/09 15:56:35 EST

Just getting started and interested. Found an old forge and some tools. Got the forge operational, mostly tlc cleaning and pour one babbit bearing and make new shaft. Looking for some answers on age and other useful facts. Appears to maybe be home made. Willing to email pictures to anyone with any interest thank-you, scottie
   - Scott Hjetland - Monday, 03/02/09 15:58:07 EST

Ty Murch, if you're going to re-use an old incert for this make sure it is not TiN coated (or any other coating) as it will not braze for you if it is.
We used to make braze in tools all the time at one shop I worked at.
If you have any machining capibilities you might just try milling a slot across the end of a piece of round stock that will fit down the hole you are trying to thread (plus clearance for the tool) then drill and tap two holes in the end to fasten on a cap to hold the tool in place.
Consider that if your carbide incert gets red hot, while you are trying to braze it in, it will get brittle and break down very quickly in use.
When we used to make our turning tools we would flux a piece of .020 brass shim stock and cut a piece small enough to fit under the carbide blank. Then hold them in place on the tool shank with a "C" clamp vise grip, apply heat from the bottom of the steel shank until the brass melts. Grind to finish...
Be sure that the center higth of the tool is on center with your bar. Relise also that if you break your carbide incert while cutting your thread you will have a lot of trouble getting it all out of the cut befor you can continue (after you make a new tool)
I like a HSS tool for makeing internal threads when ever possible.
   - merl - Monday, 03/02/09 17:45:01 EST

Having a hard time finding what I thought would be an easy item. 1045 in 1/8 by 2 1/2 and 4" wide flats. The best I could find was 2" wide at Admiral, which carries it as blade steel, and even that is five bucks a pound. I have a bunch of 1045 rounds that I got for just a little more than A-36, but finding it in flats is wierdly difficult. Any ideas on why stuff like this would be so difficult? What the heck are shovels made out of in this country? I just want to make a modest production run of garden trowels . . .thanks.
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 03/02/09 19:22:33 EST

Peter Hirst, I would guess that shovels are made from reconstituted beer cans these days from the service they yeild:)
One of the reasons my RR spike trowels are well received by the garden crowd is that they do not bend. I leave enough thickness along the spine to prevent bending even with the say 1030is carbon levels of the HC spikes.
I have sold about 175 so far, and not one return for a trowel I "gauraenteeee to last for my life time".
Most of the 1045 would go to machine shops and forge shops I would say.
   ptree - Monday, 03/02/09 20:45:56 EST

Ptree: I have thought about rr spikes and leaf springs, but I really want to go with new steel for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the match with the 1045 I make the rest of the tools in this line from and the handles for the trowels. I am sure you ae right as to where the 1045 goes: what I need to know is where it comes from. :-)
   Peter Hirst - Monday, 03/02/09 21:06:37 EST

Peter Hirst, I would try calling Admiral I bought some 1095 flat from them for coke oven scraper bar chisels. The material they supplied me with was sheared from plate. Their 1045 flat may be the same. Why don't you draw it out of round? you can leave a spine down the middle heavier that way. If you make them from plate maybe you could get Admiral to laser cut them to shape for you.
   - JNewman - Monday, 03/02/09 23:50:36 EST

Scott Hjetland, You may e-mail photos to me for identification. If its home or shop built the age could be 10 to 150 years old unless there are some tell tale arc welds and then that only isolates it to post WWI or WWII. Dating this stuff is very difficult. Identifying the tools is easier unless they are specials.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/03/09 09:07:29 EST

JNewman Didn't I mention Admiral in my post? Yes, they will shear it for me for 5 bucks plus a pound and an $85 cutting charge. That puts my unit cost a over $5 just for the trowle blade. Gotta do better than that. My design already has a spine in it. The flat blank is formed and welded to a tapered 3/8" shaft, the weld ground and blended forming the spine, the shaft in turn ferrule mounted to a hardwood handle. These are not your usual hand tools. They are 24-30" overall, intended for those who like to get down close to the soil without bending over and straining the back. Similar to what Snow and Neally stopped making about 5 years ago. In order to forge them individually, I would also have to draw down the shaft end to 3/8, +/- .005 to fit the ferrule mount. I tested and may end up doing that, but I want to compare the time and results of the two methods, and I need the exact flat stock for the r&d. At the moment, the best candidate is 4130 from McMaster Carr, which at least gets my unit cost down to about half of what the Admiral 1045 runs. Still looking . . .
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 03/03/09 10:42:25 EST

Peter; when I was in Germany I stopped by an old smithy that was now a museum and watched a video of the smith making a hoe out of 2" sq stock---did it all in a *short* video using the right tooling: Drop hammer, power hammer and a hand hammer and anvil for tweaking. No welding or blending required.

I would think a set of dies to make the spine integral and draw the tang/shaft to size and length would be a faster way to go myself.

(That smithy had been in the same spot since the 1400's rebuilding after every fire and was totally water powered---even the powerhammers---air ones and the board drop hammers.)

   Thomas P - Tuesday, 03/03/09 11:12:10 EST

Peter Hirst,
Try Pacific Machinery and tool Steel http://www.pmtsco.com/
MKArmory.com buys its 5160 blade stock there for better prices than Admiral. They may have 1045 too.
   Mike/Marco - Tuesday, 03/03/09 11:14:50 EST

Yes did mention Admiral but you said that the widest they carried was 2".
   - JNewman - Tuesday, 03/03/09 13:02:38 EST

Material Costs, Making trowels: This is one of those jobs for a 100 to 150 pound power hammer or better and making the parts from less expensive round stock (1" or 1-1/4") in one piece (or square if cheaper). This would save forging a seperate piece, welding, grinding.

This is the advantage of a good power hammer. Less need for obtaining and stocking specific material sizes as well as reducing seperate steps.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/03/09 14:26:48 EST

I have the opportunity to buy a 125lb JHM Journeyman anvil for a good price. Has anyone used one before and what do you think of them as a smithing anvil vs for farrier work? Thanks!
   - Gene Lilley - Tuesday, 03/03/09 14:31:32 EST

I'm writing a paper for my welding class on how welding techniques and technology have influenced metal art in the past 100 years. I'm sort of having trouble finding information, even on the internet. Do you have any advice on where I should look for information? Better yet, how do you think welding techniques and technology has influenced metal art?
My paper is overdue, so thanks for any info you can give.....
   Logan Jensen - Tuesday, 03/03/09 17:26:15 EST

Modern Welding Techniques in Art: Logan, There has been a tremendous impact. A great percentage of modern works are cut and welded using modern techniques all developed in the past 100 years. All you have to do is study the work of the greatest sculptors of the 20th Century. Since this is homework I will not list them by name. Their work is made directly in steel, brass, aluminium and stainless using welding techniques as well as modern machine tools and fabrication methods. Some welding shows, much does not. Among the great sculptors are also several blacksmiths who have generally been overlooked due to their being "craftsmen". But their art is as important as that of Michelangelo, Picasso or Calder.

We have reviews of books that mention some of these artists on our review page. The Decorative and Sculptural Ironwork, and Direct Metal Sculpture by Dona Z. Meilach, Italian Masters of Wrought Iron (I Maestri Italiani Del Ferro Battuto) by Giuseppe Ciscato.

ANY general art reference or art text book will include the people I speak of. A book on modern sculpture will focus largely on these same people. Find them and I will tell you more if you need. But your best resource would be the biographies of these artists. At least one of these artists has public work so famous that it is purposely shown in many films in order to give identity to the locale. His work is also found in most of the major airports of the world because of the effect of air upon them. (A very blatant and obvious hint).

   - guru - Tuesday, 03/03/09 18:27:06 EST

Hi Gene

I have heard nothing but good things about the JHM anvils. It has a good weight for Blacksmithing. The anvil design is a blending of both the Blacksmith and Farrier anvil. I think they are hardened ductile iron. If you have an opportunity to purchase at a good price I would go for it. The JHM are hard to find. I am guessing because they are well liked.
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 03/03/09 18:33:19 EST


To add to Mr. Guru's post the electric welder made many things more efficient and possible. It also hurt traditional methods and craftmanship at the same time. I guess you could talk about both aspects of the industry as positive and negative. Good luck in you paper.

It is refreshing that you were honest upfront about this being homework. We appreciate that.

Best Wishes :)
   - Rustystuff - Tuesday, 03/03/09 18:37:09 EST

Peter: I'm not a big fan of so-called super-quench concoctions, but this might be a good application for a brine quench. I seem to remember it takes 1 pound of salt per gallon. Lotta ice will help too. Should work pretty good on something this thin. I'd sure try it, and I almost always buy good heat treatable materials for consistancy. No worry about the customer getting the tool hot either.
   - grant - Tuesday, 03/03/09 19:21:36 EST

Peter: I'd cut some test strips and try it. Sheet is not the same as A-36 so you might not get much hardness. They do try to make sheet and plate so it can be formed easily so they keep the carbon down.
   - grant - Tuesday, 03/03/09 19:25:42 EST

Ive asked some questions about gas forge insulation and related questions, but i never though to ask what would be the best style? Theres not that many but what i want to able it do is weld something like a 2x2x6 billet of whatever. And ive seen the forges made only of firebricks ive seen verticle and ive seen horazontal tube shaped ones, but what is best for the billet welding.
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 03/03/09 20:39:34 EST

Guru: WHen the product line takes, off, you can bet the first investment (after the real estate located where I can use it) will be that big dog hammer. In the meantime, I'm not gonna tax the LG 25 with 1" tool stock, even for a run of 50 or so. I may have to resort to the superquench, but I really want to promote a genuine medium carbon product. Meantime, I'll keep trying. I did order some 4130 from MC to try, and I'll give pacific MAchine a shout too. Thanks for the tips.
   Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 03/03/09 20:46:19 EST

Jacob Jockhart,

Most of the knife makers I know are now using a vertical tube forge for billet welding. This design allows the large amounts of flux to run off the billet and drop to the bottom. They're a simple forge to build using Kaowool sides and either hard firebrick or castable refractory for the floor. I'm sure the knifemaking forums have plans or photos you can follow.
   vicopper - Tuesday, 03/03/09 21:15:05 EST

The bladesmiths also tend to use fan blown forges to get that welding heat that is sometimes elusive in atmospheric venturi types. On the other hand, the pros are also moving away from flux altogether and using stainless foil to protect the billet. See the Damascus Knife and Damascus Patterns DVD's sold by Big BLU Hammers.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/03/09 21:42:15 EST

Fan blown forges? Is there a more common name for that? What is that exactly?
   - Jacob Lockhart - Tuesday, 03/03/09 21:50:26 EST

Fan blown. See our plans page.
   - guru - Tuesday, 03/03/09 21:59:59 EST

An arc welder made a huge difference to my work. I know those who like to reenact old times don't use them but it really enabled me to go into 3 dimensions. Of course if you are looking at developments in the past 100 years that rules out arc I think. Wasn't it invented over 100 years back?
   philip in china - Tuesday, 03/03/09 22:55:55 EST

Rustystuff - Thanks for your response. I just cruised some of the smithing forums and majority of comments on JHM anvils are that they are excellent. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
   - Gene Lilley - Wednesday, 03/04/09 08:07:40 EST

I have a potential client (who I found here) who needs his Stone Hammers dressed and tempered. He has several OLD hammers that are 3 to 4 pounds, and similar in shape to a straight or cross pein forging hammer. He has had them done by someone, and now complains that they are too soft, and the working surfaces quickly mushroom. What are your various opinions on the final heat treat of Stone hammers?

My idea is to harden the whole hammer; quench in water. Then temper the whole hammer in the toaster oven to 450 deg. Fahrenheit. Then, with the pein setting in a pan of water and dabbing the face with a wet rag, heat the eye with a torch till it is blue.

He’s got enough hammers to experiment with one or two, and I have enough rocks laying outside the shop for testing.
   Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 03/04/09 08:17:55 EST

Jacob Lockhart: The intent of a fan is to introduce additional oxygen into the forge during combustion. Think of a hair dryer. That is a blower fan with a heating element. Most common are squirrel cage fans. However, I do note suitable small cubic foot per minute ones are difficult to find. For examples go to www.surpluscenter.com and do a product search on blower.
   Ken Scharabok - Wednesday, 03/04/09 08:43:07 EST

Stone Hammers: Dave, I can relate a little from a friend that did a number of these. The major problem he had was that some were plain carbon steel and others were alloy tool steel that crumbled if over heated. Seemed the were Italian hammers and the alloy fairly picky. Probably has a lot to do with capacity for greater depth of hardening and wear resistance.

For selective tempering a double faced hammer I would look into rigging up a flowing water quench from both sides and selectively harden and temper at the same time much like doing a single face hammer. Or end harden then oven temper the whole.

There is a fine line between tools that mushroom and those that chip. Stone masons like to see them wear down rather than mushroom. Manufacturers would rather see them mushroom than chip.
   - guru - Wednesday, 03/04/09 09:15:43 EST

Hammers. In my coal forge shop, I still use the "wet rag method" on the hammers. Each face is hardened and tempered separately leaving the eye relatively soft from the initial normalizing or annealing. The problem with hardening the area of the eye is that the quenchant works from inside and outside the eye creating a different hardening rate than that of the thicker faces. I heat one face at the edge of a deep, coke fire and turning it occasionally. If it's high carbon steel, usually 75 to 80 points carbon, I'll quench vertically in water, figure-eighting it in the water to furnish agitation and to get a more uniform quench. Withdraw from the water when it quits making the "cush" sound; that helps prevent cracks. If a temper is needed, I make a tempering heat transfer tool by taking heavy stock, maybe 7/8" square and forge a turned eye on the end of a handling length. The eye at a welding heat will fit snugly over the hardened hammer head as the scale-free head is protruding from the vise jaws. Ideally, you're tempering from the outside in so that you wind up with a "rim temper." The rim of the hammer face will hopefully be softer than the center of the face. This is theory and it may very well happen, but it is difficult to recognize in a shop situation. When the face center is dark straw, I pour on some water to "hold the temper."

I use a wet, cotton rag which I wrap around the finished head. The other end, head or peen, is heated while the wet rag end is held with large bolt tongs. If the rag seems to char too much, water can be poured on it while taking the heat. When the cherry red is reached, quench and figure eight again, keeping the bolt tongs on the piece. I usually use the oxy torch to temper the peen end. With scale removed, it goes in the vise again, peen up and keeping the wet rag in place. I use a large welding tip and direct the flame downward toward the eye, patiently waiting for the right tempering color to chase up to the peen end. Again, pour on water to hold the temper.

On a forging hammer, the face is taken to a straw or dark straw, a relatively "hard temper," because with continued use, the face tends to hollow. The peen is less used usually, and you don't have the hollowing problem, so on those hammers, I take the peen to purple.

I would be tempted to give a hard temper, straw, 428ºF, to the stone hammer ends, and see how that works.

While the wet rag method is time consuming, I have not had any troubles with the end result.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 03/04/09 10:33:06 EST

Frank, after reading, this all makes sense. I will ask him, but I assume that the pein should be harder than the face, if not the same. I guess I could make a tempering bar for the pein similar to the ring for the face, so that the top of the pein sticks up thruogh, leaving it harder than the steel towards the eye.

I think I remember seeing a sketch of your tempering rod somewhere, maybe here.
   - Dave Leppo - Wednesday, 03/04/09 13:09:14 EST

Peter Hirst: Wanted to see for myself. I brine quenched a piece of 1/8 inch mild sheet (P&O) from probably close to 1700 - 1800F. Before quenching I got 15 Rc, after quenching (no draw) I got 35 Rc. This is really quite good when you consider that we always went for 32 Rc on rigging gear (shackles and such). If memory serves me, I believe that is in the range of 100,000 to 120,000 psi tensile. Saves a ton of dough! Very thin material like this is about the only place I would expect to get consistant results. Sure looks good to me.
   - grant - Wednesday, 03/04/09 16:14:39 EST

GRant: definitely worth trying. DId your temper? Test for brittleness? Maybe it could go even higher in a superquench with detergent and all that? Thanks for the tip, I will try it.
   Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 03/04/09 19:17:37 EST

Peter: No temper. I believe 35 rockwell is not going to be brittle. O.K. I checked. Bent an un-heat treated one in the vise quite easily. Had to beat the crap out of the quenched one, but it still bent 90 without breaking.

I would forget al the hocus-pokus "Dawn dishwashing liquid" and such. Never seen any "scientific" evidence that it helps any. You do need the full concentration of salt though. Sodium hydroxide (lye) solution is suposed to be the ultimate. Use lots of ice, water loses it's effectiveness real fast, unlike oil. Lots of ice in salt water gets very cold too.
   - grant - Wednesday, 03/04/09 21:19:25 EST

Hard tempers on mild steel. . . I've had so-called "mild steel" parts snap off in my hand after forging and quenching. . . As long as you are sure of the chemistry you are in good shape.

I was pricing some steel today and noted that square tool steel bar was almost double the price of round and rectangular over double. Makes a power hammer more affordable if you can use forged to shape from round.
   - guru - Thursday, 03/05/09 01:05:22 EST

Guru: I've had similar experience with A-36 bar stock, but they seem to be keeping sheet stock relatively "mild".
   - grant - Thursday, 03/05/09 04:26:24 EST

Grant and Peter, I have made perhaps 175 garden trowels from RR spikes, most the HC with a .28 to .35 carbon. I have never had one to be returned bent or broken. The first 100 or so were heat treated by quenching without temper. The remainder as forged with the same performance. Most of these went to hard core gardeners who dig, pry and chop with the trowels. I do leave a significant thickness along the spine tapering to a nice thin edge. Makes a good balance, and makes them tuff. Some of these have as much as 9 years of use. I have had to sharpen several as they wore the edges round.
I would not be afraid to make trowels from 1018, as lng as the spine thickness is there.
   ptree - Thursday, 03/05/09 07:46:04 EST

Hi Guru, I like your article about apprenticeships and sword making, it was Hilarious, especially the response from the would-be apprentice... very nice,
   Damian - Thursday, 03/05/09 08:23:39 EST

The dishwashing detergent actually makes sense, though I haven't seen any experimental data, if that's what you mean by "scientific". Any detergent(surfactant) reduces surface tension, which is what allows a drop of water to skip around on a cushion of steam on a hot surface, and it is said allows steam to envelope hot iron in a quench. If the surface tension is broken, the water more easily stays in contact with the hot iron. The salt increases density and therefore thermal conductivity, but that cant help much if steam rather than water is in contact with the iron. Makes sense, and the demos I have heard about involving superquench seem to achieve a lot higher than 35. ANybody know if a controlled experiment has ever been documented? BTW, I think lye is among other things, a surfactant, and reduces surface tension. Oh,
I can get salt ice locally, think that would help?
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 03/05/09 10:04:30 EST

Hello Fellers

Check out this forge with a nifty milk can hood. ebay #120387269194 I got a kick out of it and really like it. I might make me one.
   - Rustystuff - Thursday, 03/05/09 11:29:30 EST

Peter: I've heard some claim that because salt raises the boiling point it is more effective. I haven't see density credited before, interesting, where did you hear that? I have a book on quenching that shows the action of many quenchants. As you noted vapor barrier is the problem with plain water. The action documented with brine was very interesting. As vapor bubbles start to form in a brine quench, salt crystals precipitate out and actually explode on the surface of the hot steel. This tends to blast away the vapor barrier. With lye the action is the same only much more violent. It actually has enough force to blast off all the scale and the part comes out totally scale free. At first it might seem that the lye has dissolved the scale from the surface, but you can see the particles of scale being torn away and there is a pile of scale left in the bottom. Really interesting stuff.

Not convinced that detergent "wetting" will have an effect on 1500 degree steel. Better result in demos? I've tried to emphasize the difference between A-36 and sheet material. Many A-36 pieces (not all) CAN be surface hardened well beyond 35RC. Sheet material is not A-36. They still have to keep sheet pretty "mild" for formability.
   - grant - Thursday, 03/05/09 16:26:12 EST

I wouldn't buy the claim of the raised boilng point.Since the vapor barrier forms almost instantaneously, that is, water goes from room temp to 212 in a small fraction of a second, I can't see that raising the vapor temperature a few degrees is going to make any difference. Certainly not as much difference as chilling the water to 32 to begin with. that creates an assitinal forty degree temerature differential, versus, what 3 or four degrees in the boiling point of salt water?

The crystal explosion thing is interesting, though. By "blasting away" the vapor barrier, doesn;t that mean precisely piercing the surface tension of the water envelope? Where is the steam "blasted away" to, other than into the water, allowing the water to maintian contact with the iron?

Thanks for the reminder on the difference between A36 and sheet. I am told some A36 is getting in excess of 30 points of iron, approachng conventional hardenability.

I thnk I may have found a reasonable compormise, in fact maybe the ideal solution. I can get 1045 in .250" flats reasonalby priced. It would not strain the LG 25 to forge this into a nice tapered trowel with a center spine and integrated 3/8 handle shaft. I'm going to try that and compare it with the 4130 and cr superquenched samples and post results over on the hammer in.

Thanks for all the help on this
   Peter Hirst - Thursday, 03/05/09 17:11:05 EST

All good questions. I don't totally discount the possibilty of sufficants helping, I just haven't seen anything to support it, other than antecdotal. I find the idea of density compelling, I just haven't seen anything that said so. Many people make the mistake of using not nearly enough salt. It should be a nearly saturated solution, at least one pound per gallon. Salt is cheap!

Absolutely, it is piercing the vapor barrier which tends to "cling" to the steel. Where is it blasted away to? It is now free to rise. In plain water we can feel this action. When you first put the part in water it seems to do almost nothing. Then kind of in a rush you can feel it quenching along with a vigorous boiling action. This is because at first a vapor barrier forms, then the ajacent water starts to form a convection current due the heating of the water. This upward rush of water sweeps away the vapor barrier. I try to be skeptical of theorys (even my own!), but I have a lot of faith in good experimental research even when it runs contrary to what I "believe" to be true.

Alex Wygers added to the confusion. He listed quenchants in order of effacy by boiling point and so had water first, then brine, then oil!

Most steel suppliers will be happy to give you a copy of the mill "certs" on anything you buy. It should be free unless you want a certified copy. It's always interesting seeing just what is in your steel.

Glad you found a good supply of steel. You do realize that no matter what you start with, the most difficult hammering is when the part gets thin?
   - grant - Thursday, 03/05/09 18:11:16 EST

I was at a demo where Rob Gunther demonstrated the superquench. This would have been around 1998 I think. He actually asked for someone to do the mixing and I did. He then made little cold chesils from 1/2
   - ptree - Thursday, 03/05/09 18:51:24 EST

I was at a demo where Rob Gunther demonstrated the superquench. This would have been around 1998 I think. He actually asked for someone to do the mixing and I did. He then made little cold chesils from 1/2" square A-36, and quenched both. One in straight water, one in the superquench. The water was as expected with the "gussh" noise. He brought it out and it was still a little hot and steamed just a little. The superquench squealled somewhat like a siren when the hot steel went in, it was in the quench about 1/4 the time and came out cold as the quench. I was there, held it in my hand. He then used a hand hammer to try to cut the very bar the cold cuts were made from. The plain water quench mushroomed and did not work. The superquenched cut almost thru a number, maybe 5 places and was then passed around. You could still see the hot rasp marks on the cutting edge.
Robb's thought was that the steam layer was reduced/eleminated. He did state that at the lab he worked at the metalurgists did not believe it would work, and ran the standard hardenability test on the 1" bar and tested hardness across the thickness, and they could not explain the unexpected hardness results. He also noted that he developed superquench to replace the LYE quench they had been using that OSHA was upset about. He said they used the superquench to make short run dies at the labs and were able to run say 300 forgings of 300SS off A-36 dies. Having worked with 300SS in closed die shops that is awfully good performance. He did say it was not going to make tool steel from A-36, but was a good short run help trick.

His fourmula is heavy on salt, and wetting agents. Sulfactants will indeed reduce the surface tension. In thinking about the issue, I would also wonder if instead of density or boiling point causing the effect, I wonder instead if the vapor pressure of the base water along is changed enought to allow the sulfactant additized water to wet with out as rapid a change to vapor.
   - ptree - Thursday, 03/05/09 18:51:44 EST

Peter Hirst, is that how that works, by reducing the surface tention of the Quenchent?
I always figured it made the quenchant more dense wich in turn did not alow the steam to form as large a "bubble" around the part.
I dunno, am I saying the same thing you are?
   - merl - Thursday, 03/05/09 22:36:56 EST

Detergent may work both ways: to disperse heat faster and break the surface tension. The steam barrier is a function of the surface tension containing the bubble and the rate of heat dispersion which tends to collapse the bubble. Break the surface tension and the steam dissolves in the water. The higher density fluid will also draw off the heat from the steam faster, collapsing the bubble. Adding detergent may both increase the density and wetness. Certainly increases viscosity, but I don't know about density.
   Peter Hirst - Friday, 03/06/09 00:27:30 EST

Hmmmm...... now if you want collapsing bubbles in your quenchant, how neat would it be to quench in an ultrasonic solution? Ever put a carbonated beverage in an ultrasonic machine? It's like putting a soda bottle in a paint mixer.
   - Nippulini - Friday, 03/06/09 08:57:50 EST

ASTM A36 for bar stock, up to 3/4" C max of 0.26, no spec for Mn. Over 3/4 to 1 & 1/2 C max of 0.27 % Mn of 0.60 to 0.90, over 1 & 1/2 to 4, C max of 0.28 Mn of 0.60 to 0.90, over 4 " C max of 0.29 and Mn of 0.60 to 0.90. For all sizes, P max of 0.04 %, S max of 0.05%, Si max of 0.40 % and copper min of 0.20 % when copper steel is specified.

For plates, the spec differs a bit with the major difference being Mn levels, & minimum Si levels of 0.15 %for plates 1 & 1/2 inch thick and thicker.
   - Gavainh - Friday, 03/06/09 13:01:16 EST

Gavainh: Great info. Is there a distiction between sheet and plate?
   - grant - Friday, 03/06/09 15:20:46 EST

Ptree was that at one of the Quad-States at Emmert's? IF so I have that piece! I asked Rob for it after the demo...

   Thomas P - Friday, 03/06/09 15:57:09 EST

Nipper: By Golly, you've done it again! It should work for the same reason agitation helps.

O.K. How come old slack tub water is better than freash tap water?
   - grant - Friday, 03/06/09 16:26:18 EST

ThomasP, I saw the demo at Tipton Indiana.
   ptree - Friday, 03/06/09 16:42:05 EST

Does anyone have any experience putting a 3/4" Z-burner into a Whisper Baby? The burner is rated for up to about 350 cubic inches and my WB is less than half of that. Also, would a higher operating temperature affect my ITC coating?
   quenchcrack - Friday, 03/06/09 17:44:10 EST

QC, I don't know if the 3/4" burner will adjust back to operate in the WB. The hole in the case is big enough. I've had the pizieo igniter assmembly off and they shouldn't be hard to refit to a DIY burner.

The ITC coatings have a melting temperature (+4,800°F) WAY above the rest of the refractories. You will melt the lining before hurting the ITC.
   - guru - Friday, 03/06/09 18:53:01 EST

With the ITC stuff I just added to the WB, it fires fast and uniformly but it still doesn't get hot enough. I presume that is a problem relating to the burner design. Any suggestions on another burner type to get the Whisper Baby up to welding heat? Or should I just buy another forge? Nudge Nudge Wink Wink.....
   quenchcrack - Friday, 03/06/09 19:33:12 EST

What is this ??

   - Ty Murch - Saturday, 03/07/09 00:45:06 EST

quenchcrack: Keep in mind the Whisper Baby was designed for a farrier to heat up a horseshoe enough to be hot worked. Wasn't designed for forge welding. Check out the forges produced by Chili Forge. As far as I know they are the only ones which come with a guarantee of reaching forge welding temperatures.
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/07/09 01:54:09 EST

Quench, have you seen Larry's new ZEE burner? Gets hotter, runs smoother etc. I did some testing for him since I have some access to and experience with flow test equip.
I would go with the ZEE. E-mail me for details
   ptree - Saturday, 03/07/09 08:27:52 EST

I am completely new to this site and just wanted to say that this is definitely a clear picture of the long road ahead for me. I have always been fascinated by the art of blacksmithing and especially blade smithing, of which I know nothing and have decided to give it a shot. I am a sword collector (I try to buy a sword every year, but they are quite pricy, so I generally save up first) Thanks for the reality check. I am generally overexcited to start any project and never really get how tough the road ahead will be.
   Amanda Smit - Saturday, 03/07/09 08:51:50 EST

Amanda, If you bought the entire list of books on our sword making resources page you would have less invested than in one decent sword, OR one semester of trade school, OR one semester of college textbooks. Its a very good affordable start.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/07/09 10:28:24 EST

What is it?: I've answered this one for someone on this photo before. Its a special vise or work holder for some kind of machine. It is not a fly press.
   - guru - Saturday, 03/07/09 10:31:24 EST

Question for Frank Turley: A local farrier dropped off several buckets of used shoes. When sorting through them I found several oval (egg-bar?) ones. What is the purpose of them?
   Ken Scharabok - Saturday, 03/07/09 11:16:33 EST

The uses of egg-bar shoes are listed on page 793 in the SIA book...grin
   - Not Frank - Saturday, 03/07/09 16:28:35 EST


That is a tong handle straightner also doubles as an apprentice attitude adjuster....grin

Whatever it is...it sure looks neat. I bet we all could find some neat uses for one in the shop.
   - Not Frank - Saturday, 03/07/09 16:32:16 EST

I have a question for all who are experienced in working with hardwoods. How the devil do you carve them? As in what single tool would you say is the most important to have on hand?

I'm trying to make a new stock for an airgun out of oak and none of the tools I have are capable of easily removing this stuff. My homemade draw knife is too blunt same with a chisel I have lying around, a power sander does almost nothing. Argh, it's frustrating not having the right tool for the job, I feel like sticking a angle grinder to this thing and just burning away the wood. :(
   Nabiul Haque - Saturday, 03/07/09 21:53:59 EST

it's been the most handy for holding pieces of plate for torch cutting as you can imagine why. i thought it would be pretty cool if you could set it level w/ a table for clamping work to the table.
   - Ty Murch - Saturday, 03/07/09 22:54:06 EST

Peter Hirst, aren't viscosity and density interrelated? or maybe even the same in the case of fluids?
I'm probably wrong on this but, if we add a drop of soap to a bucket of water we break the surface tension of the water but, if we keep adding soap we "thicken" up the water assuming the soap stays in suspension, so don't we then increase the viscosity and the density at the same time?
What would the purpose of adding liquid soap be if not to simply increase the density of the quench water?
I don't have my recipe for superquench handy but, what else is in there and what does each component do?
I think your explanation makes the most sence though.
BTW there is an excelant picture of the "steam bubble" effect on IFI under the thread title -makeing a round hole with a square bar- check it out.
   - merl - Saturday, 03/07/09 23:19:42 EST

Nabiul Haque, I think you answerd your own question. Your tools have to be sharp and sharpend correctly to the job.
I made my first air rifle stock from a oak pallet stringer with a draw knife, wood rasp, spoke shave, bowl plain and some hand scrapers to finish. Then rubed in linseed oil and brown shoe polish. It took a long time but, it was something I had to do once. I didn't even get to keep the stock as it was for someone elses gun. Now my stocks are completely mechanical, no wood involved. Click on my underlined name, I would be interested to see what you are building.
   merl - Saturday, 03/07/09 23:37:08 EST

Nabiul Haque,

For carving oak or hickory or other hard woods with coarse grain, you need an extremely sharp drawknife, spokeshaves, inshaves and chisels. All cutting edges must be at least sharp enough to shave with, or sharper. Anything less than that just digs in and tears the wood.

When using cutting tools on woods liket his, it is critical that you have the cutting edge at the right angle to the grain of the wood. This the need for cutting tools of various profiles and and angles - the inshaves for concave surfaces, spokeshaves for convex surfaces, drawknives for flat surfaces, etc. Using the wrong tool will court problems.

The modern expedient for hacking away oak and such is a 16 or 24 grit sanding disc on an angle grinder, or one of the chainsaw-toothed circular carving blades sold for the purpose. The chainsaw thing willmove huge amounts of wood in no time flat, but leaves a series of nasty gouges that must be smoothed. The sanding disc has the problem of leaving gouges from the edge when working on concave surfaces. I sometimes use a drum rasp in a die grinder when I'm really impatient, but that too leaves a surface that needs plenty of clean up work.

I suggest you look at some bookson wood carving to see the various tools you may want/need - all are tools that can be readily forged and ground from good high-carbon steel. For quality work, there's really no good substitute for the proper cutting tools.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/07/09 23:45:30 EST


Viscosity and density are two different things, though they sometimes overlap a bit. Density is essentially the specific gravity of a substance while viscosity is the resistance to free flow. Marshmallow creme isn't very dense, compared to say mercury, but it is much more viscous.

In the superquench recipe, the salt raises the specific gravity (and the boiling point), and the Dawn detergent is possibly a surfactant (wetting agent) to decrease surface tension. I say "possibly" on the Dawn as a wetting agent since the recipe also calls for Jet Dry, a wetting agent used in electric dishwashers to decrease water-spotting. I don't know what the Jet Dry is, but I suspect it is a propylene glycol type substance similar to Kodak Photo-Flo 2000, a wetting agent used in darkroom work. With the Jet Dry included, the Dawn may be acting more to increase viscosity and disperse steam than as a wetting agent. That's my guess, anyway. Rob Gunter would be the guy to ask; he developed the stuff.
   vicopper - Saturday, 03/07/09 23:56:48 EST

Carving Hardwoods: They vary a lot and the splintery grain of oak make it one of the worst. The dense grain of hard maple is tough to work but easy to control. Walnut and cherry carve very nicely.

My favorite method of shaping oak is green. It works great with hatchets, draw knives, gouges and coarse rasps. Carve it close but a little oversize then hang to dry a year. .

Dry oak as mentioned works nicely with the coarsest grit disks made (looks like fine sharp gravel). Cuts it like butter. Then change disks to about double the grit, then use paper double that and so on.

But generally I avoid oak at all costs due to the splintery open grain.

For the fastest most controllable carving in most dense fine grained hardwoods a large gouge (1.25" half round) with outside bevel works great. My hand forged gouges have handles like a Coke-a-Cola bottle with ferrules made of 1" conduit (about 1.25" OD) and 1-1/2" pipe (about 2" OD). I use them with either a big rectangular cherry root mallet or a heavy rubber round carving mallet.

I've also done considerable "carving" with one of those 24 grit wheels on a stationary shaft running at high speed.

But if you need to get the job done then rotary files on a die grinder work great. they are fast and allow intricate carving. Follow these with small sanding drums that fit 1.25" centrifugally expanding rubber arbor OR a large (12 or 14") NEW bastard cut half file. Files work great on most hardwoods for final truing and work before hand sanding. Files work best on wood if they have not cut metal.

I avoid oak except for reworking handles and I prefer maple handles. .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/08/09 00:55:19 EST

Whoops said it twice. Guess I really dislike oak. . .
   - guru - Sunday, 03/08/09 00:56:42 EST

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