anvils  anvil making  anvil repair  air hammer  artist blacksmiths  ABANA  alloy  bellows  blower  blacksmith  blacksmiths  blacksmithing  blacksmithing books  blacksmithing links  blacksmithing machinery  blacksmithing tools  blacksmiths's forge  blacksmith's tongs  blacksmith's guru  blade smithing   do-it-yourself   coal  coke  charcoal  charcoal forge  forge  forging  forge plans  forge welding  fabricator  gas forge  great bellows  grinders  grinding  propane forge  iron  ironwork  ironworks  junk yard hammer  JYH  knives  knife making  hammer  hammer-in  heat treating  hardy   iron   power hammer   pritchel  oil forge   quench tank  quench  smith  smithy  steel   steam hammer  slack tub  tempering  trip hammer  tongs  tools  machinery plans  metal  metalwork   weld   welding   arc  welding   wrought iron   blacksmith forum   blacksmiths FAQs - Self portrait (c) 1989 Jock Dempsey WELCOME to the Guru's Den!

Ask the Guru any reasonable blacksmithing or metalworking question. 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 April 15 - 30, 1999 on the Guru's Den

New to blacksmithing? Check out our FAQ Getting Started.

The Guru has four helpers that have been given a distinct colored "voice".
  • Bruce R. Wallace of Wallace Metal Work (purple) as of 12/98.

  • "grandpa" Daryl Meier of MEIER STEEL (green).

  • Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, of Paw Paw's Forge and official demonstrator at Bethbara Historical Park, Winston-Salem, NC (OD green).

  • Bruce "Atli" Blackistone, of the Longship Co., color "ink" to be determined.

  • Please report any posting or retrieval problems to:

    webmaster at

    After posting and clicking on return, the page will automaticly reload and display your entry. If not then, click on LastPost after the file reloads. Your question will be answered as soon as possible.

    Your input, answers and comments on questions to the Guru are welcome.

    -- guru Saturday, 08/01/98 00:00:00 EDT
    Thank you for your advice on the bellows. I just checked out your great bellows, very impressive!!! I will check out the cowhide. Do you know if there is a particular ounce weight of cowhide that I shoud look for? When using the 3/4" pine, did you have any trouble with the board splitting out when nailing the edges? Thankyou also for a great site!

    Allen Schaeffer -- STUDIO_518 at Thursday, 04/15/99 00:18:07 GMT

    Allen, The only split I had was the ONE stupid knot that fell on the edge that I was SUPPOSED to avoid. . . Murphy! Now this was your relatively fresh kiln dried lumber that acts half way like green. . . At the time I could have gotten clear pine for about three times the price but didn't know about it. Today you can't find it locally. The top board produces the pressure and a heavy one doesn't hurt. However, there were times when I wanted less too. I considered a counter weight system to adjust the pressure. Would look good with hand forged chain and balance bars. . .

    I know nothing of leather weights. I DO know that a local upholstery shop has whole hides for $85 - $100 US. I was surprised at how cheap they were. Watch out for bullet and shot holes! The natural or brown color is cheapest. Dyed colors are more expensive. A BLUE bellows???

    -- guru Thursday, 04/15/99 00:48:36 GMT

    Holy COW Batman! :o) 8 people in the Slack-Tub Pub! Definitely have to clear the log tomarrow!

    -- guru Thursday, 04/15/99 00:50:51 GMT

    All knowing Guru and helpers or whoever have a possible answer (within reson) I'm trying (together with SCB and a few others) to figure out what would be the best steel for making an all steel anvil.
    I have come to some conclusions but would like a second, third….. opinion greatly
    0.6-0.7%C 5%Cr 2%Ni 0.5Mn 0.25%Si hardened to 50-55 HRC,is about what I have figured would work (not work best, but work desently)
    I don't know yet what the others have come to but I will keep you posted

    OErjan -- Pokerbacken at Thursday, 04/15/99 12:06:07 GMT

    were not looking for possible standard steels but steel specifikations
    (elemental content) for the IDEAL allsteel anvil
    no easy task i know but i have hope :-)
    thanks for this site jock

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 04/15/99 12:55:18 GMT

    In regard to the question of leather for the great bellows, my reference book (How to Make A Blacksmith's Bellows, by Robert Heath) says 4 to 5 oz. leather with a thickness of 4/64" to 5/64". I ordered it from Tandy Leather Co. in Texas. I called them at 888-890-1611 and told them what I wanted it for. It was available in brown or black.

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Thursday, 04/15/99 15:40:37 GMT

    where can I find a 100 to 150 ton trip-hammer
    Thank You.

    Jerry Geris -- rings at Thursday, 04/15/99 18:37:10 GMT

    Are you really looking for 100-150 TON trip hammer!?
    If so I suppose you would find one in a LARGE blacksmith's shop.(grin)


    Ralph Douglass -- ralphd at Thursday, 04/15/99 20:10:26 GMT

    Holy COW boy wonder. That's one BIG AS_ HAMMER!!! Jerry, I hope you mean a 100 to 150 pound hammer.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Thursday, 04/15/99 21:54:16 GMT

    I have found a Vulcan Anvil in good condition. How does this anvil compare in quality to other US made anvils?


    Steve Christiansen -- rurik100 at Thursday, 04/15/99 22:13:39 GMT

    Are there any books on weaponsmithing availible, particularly ones concerning polearms? Thanks.

    Matt Marziale -- marziale at Friday, 04/16/99 00:35:24 GMT

    Jerry wrote to me asking about a 100-150 pound hammmer.

    The thing IS Jerry they DO make them that big. However, one man open die hammers are limited to about 500 pounds max. Mechanical hammers were built up to 500 pounds. The worlds FIRST steam hammer built in the 1840's was HUGE 20 tons (I think). - See the James Nasmyth biography on the Bookshelf

    Well, I'm off to SPRING FLING! Be back Monday night!

    -- guru Friday, 04/16/99 01:23:12 GMT

    Steve, Vulcan anvils were made of cast iron. Cast iron would not be my first choice material for an anvil. Fisher was another U.S. cast anvil with a steel plate. As for other U.S. made anvils? There were only a few other major manufactures that made forged anvils. If I has a choice, I would choose a forge imported over a cast U.S. anvil. A lot of fine anvils were imported to this country long before any U.S. anvil was ever made, forged or cast.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 04/16/99 03:56:01 GMT

    Guru. Got a cowpad!! Talk about high density rubber. I got it for a golf cart floormat but there just happens to be enough left for a hammer pad. I still have not had time to reconfigure any of the MW-JYH but there is still plenty of thinking going on. LOL Will keep you posted on the 'padding-o-the-hammer'. cold rain changing to snow in Rochester MN yuck. brian rognholt Odin

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 04/16/99 05:03:08 GMT

    Brian, I'm setting up a another hammer in my shop, I was going to use a cow pad. After looking at them, I wasn't sure how they would hold up with oil on them. Instead I went to a local stone quarry for some 3/8" x 30" conveyor belting. I know quarry belting will withstand oil, I have had a number of hammers set up this way. Let us know how the cow pad works out for you.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Friday, 04/16/99 05:49:48 GMT

    When I use my post drill, the bit "wanders". In other words, it moves slightly around the spot I want to drill. I assume the shaft must be bent but can't see anything wrong. Does anyone know of a way to diagnose or cure this problem.

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Friday, 04/16/99 14:54:36 GMT

    Are you using a set punch before you start drilling,If not it will help.

    Bobby Neal -- nealbrusa at Friday, 04/16/99 20:08:20 GMT

    I need some help with steel identification.
    I bought an old file and a couple of taps at the flea market last weekend and I was wondering what kind of steel they are made out of. The file is a Johnson half-round bastard metal file. One of the taps is marked 18m/m S.I. England, between the 18mm and the england there are three triangles stacked on top of each other. The other tap is marked 3/4" 10 (U)NC, below that is Warrior England.
    I am planning on forge welding the file to a piece of flat stock to make a drawknife, and I am going to forge weld the tap on the bottom of a chisel I forged. The reason I would like to know the composition of the steels is because I need to know the proper soaking/hardening temp and the quench medium for each. I just got a K-type thermocouple for easter so I can accurately control the temp of my propane forge.
    Any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    Stewart Alexander -- stewart4th at Saturday, 04/17/99 00:16:08 GMT

    Q: Need tech. advice on etching iron. Need acid, resists etc.
    Where do I turn?

    Ed Thornburg -- ETHORN at Saturday, 04/17/99 01:46:51 GMT

    Bruce, I'll soak a piece in some oil repeatedly and do my best Underwriters Laboratory impersonation before trying to heft the beast onto it. Thanks for the precaution!! brian rognholt warming up in Rochester, MN

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Saturday, 04/17/99 08:12:38 GMT

    I'm looking for plans for building a propane fired forge. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thankx in advance.

    Rodger K. Snyder -- Metalwork2 at Saturday, 04/17/99 12:09:02 GMT

    Rodger, Check out anvilfire's main page, go to plans for a simple gas burner. You can also go the anvilfire links page to Ron Reil's page for forge ideas and plans. I hope this helps.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Saturday, 04/17/99 13:30:34 GMT

    Hi...I am looking for a source of toys , dexterity puzzles etc. made of metal. I had a terrific puzzle that the kids in my class loved that was two horseshoes connected by two chains with a ring in the center. The object of the puzzle was to remove the ring. Unfortunately the puzzle broke and an over zealous welder ruined it. Any help in locating a supplier of these types of toys would be appreciated. Thanks

    Pam -- waitenow at Saturday, 04/17/99 13:56:53 GMT

    Hi...I am looking for a source for metal or iron toys, dexterity puzzles etc. I had a great horseshoe puzzle that the kids in my class loved to use. It consisted of two horseshoes joined by chain with a ring in the middle...the object was to remove the ring. Unfortunately it broke and an over zealous welder ruined it. I would like to replace it. If anyone knows of a source for these types of toys and puzzles I would appreciate the information. Thanks Pam

    Pam -- waitenow at Saturday, 04/17/99 14:04:23 GMT

    Brian, I have been giving this some thought. If the cow pad does not stand up well to oil you could use felt paper or some other type of high tech material between the hammer base and pad. I'm sure you could find some way to use the pad if oil permeates it. It is a less expensive alternative to expensive machine pads.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Saturday, 04/17/99 14:16:58 GMT

    My father and I am very interested in taking up bladesmithing as a hobby. I am debating with myself on what kind of forge to make. We dont have alot to spend, but want to make an adequate forge. What would be better for a beginner, a propane or coal forge? I was intending to use a wheel rim as my fire pot, but my father said it would be too small. Do You need a larger fire pot to make swords? Thanks for your help.....

    Jeremy Adkins -- Adkins at Saturday, 04/17/99 18:44:30 GMT

    Sometime ago there was a posting regarding aftificially aging copper. Could you please reprint it. Thanks, Bob

    Bob -- advanceelectric at Saturday, 04/17/99 19:44:32 GMT

    Last Fall we unearthed a LARGE rock in our yard. This spring my husband with the help of others placed it vertically in the ground in front of our home. I'm looking for some really nice letters and numbers to place on the rock. Do I want cast iron? Can it be coated with something so that it not rust? Any suggestions as to where on the net I could purchase the numbers and letters I need to spell out our name and address. Any ideas on how I could hold these letters and numbers on the rock? thank you

    rob -- mrsaum at Saturday, 04/17/99 23:01:24 GMT

    I am a college machinist instructor and currently teaching metallurgy. We are using a 4ft dia. open coal fed forge with one tuyere in the middle.The coal we are using has coarse 2" pieces so we are having to break it down in order to ease the coke making process.I understand there is a Blacksmithing coal that has smaller/finer pieces that helps this process. If so, is there a name for it? Where can I get it? Thank you.

    Paul -- tooch221 at Sunday, 04/18/99 05:54:00 GMT

    Paul, If you are look for a size of coal you should be using nut or pea size. The type of coal should be bituminous or soft coal.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Sunday, 04/18/99 13:38:36 GMT

    Hey, somebody needs to reset the slack-tub pub. Sorry, but I managed to kill it. Log in and you will see the problem.

    Todd -- torin at Sunday, 04/18/99 18:27:36 GMT

    Todd, Thanks! Kiwi took care of the problem.

    LETTERS ON ROCK (Rob): Normally you want brass or bronze for this type of thing. Cast iron and steel will rust and stain the rock permanently. Both could be galvanized but the slightest scratch and you may still have staining problems. Stainless steel could also be used to advantage. Forged stainless is blueblack from the heat and will not rust. Any smith capable of doing the job in steel should be able to do the same in stainless.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 03:56:13 GMT

    DRILL WANDER (Neal): Post drills are a rather primitive machine and "precision" was NEVER in the description. As Bobby mentioned you need to center punch the place you want to drill.

    Generaly these tools run fairly true. Things to check:

    • Is the drill bent?
    • Is the drill shank clean and free of burrs?
    • Is the drill properly sharpened with a true center?
    • If you have fitted a chuck, does IT run true? Normally the set screw in the drill spindle pushes the chuck or drill to one side if its not a really snug fit.
    • If you have fitted a chuck was it new or used? If used the jaws may be worn, the shank bent or the body sprung.

    All the above are typical culprits in any drilling machine setup.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 04:09:52 GMT

    STEEL IDENTIFICATION (Stewart): Files vary according to manufacturer but are generaly W-1 or a plain high carbon steel like a 1080. Test a sample before heat treating.

    FORGET the taps! They are almost always HSS (High Speed Steel) and nearly impossible to heat treat without temperature AND atmosphere control. The heat treat sequence is also quite complicated for HSS. Its GREAT stuff to regrind into gravers, lathe and shaper cutting bits, rifling tools but forget forging it.

    Any time you are using "recyled" steel always make a small test piece and heat treat and test it before putting a lot of effort into a work.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 04:23:55 GMT

    COAL SIZE (PAUL): The 2" (50mm) lumps are not a bad size. The availability of good coal (or ANY coal at all) has led many smiths into using whatever size is locally available. If you ask for "stoker" coal (which is commonly available) it will be in 1/2" (13mm) and smaller lumps. As Bruce mentioned nut size is good and pea size is a little small but we all take what we can get today.

    If you are having trouble coking that coal in as large a forge as you are using then you need to stack the coal deeper. The fire bed over the tuyere should be a foot or so (300+mm) deep. Note also that some coal with very low volitile content does not coke well at all. Coal that cokes well has enough volitile content that the coal gets soft (plastic like) and melts together forming a solid mass that cokes down and then can be broken up. This process works with almost any size coal up to and including the size you are using.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 04:36:52 GMT

    FORGE SIZE: For forging swords a small "brake drum" forge works fine. Larger IS better. You work short sections of the sword. On something that slender a long heat would make the part inpossible to handle (like a length of spagetti) The problems arise when you try to heat treat that long an object.

    The coal verses gas question is a matter of local availability, personal preferences and sometimes legal/zoning regulations. gas would be better for heat treating.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 04:42:42 GMT

    I'm a beginner at blacksmithing. I've been welding all my adult life.I'm 41 years old I can arch and wire weld. My question involves something that I read on the web pages. It states that charcoal was used before coal and that in Japan charcoal is still being used in some places. I'm sure that most prefer coal or propane,but,do you feel that charcoal will work. I'm hoping so,I like the idea of very little polution?

    Thank you, Dan Meek

    Dan Meek Monday, 04/19/99 05:27:16 GMT

    Dan im using charcoal for most of my smithing and it works fine.
    use a deep bed, About 6" deep firepot and 7-8"high pile on that giving a 13-14"deep fire is about right (and a gentle blast).
    that fire konsumes about the same amount of coal as a normal coal fire (by weight at least if you use rain water to dampen the coal before piling on new (dampen not soak).

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 04/19/99 10:02:44 GMT

    that fire konsumes about the same amount of coal as a normal coal fire (by weight) at least if you use rain water to dampen the coal before piling on new (dampen not soak).

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Monday, 04/19/99 10:11:39 GMT

    this is a great service and help!
    i want to create a natural patina on a piece of copper
    for a sculpture, and i was wondering if there is a way to accelerate the oxidation process. any help would be greatly
    appreciated. thank you, peter

    peter matzdorff -- pjm6913 at yahoo Monday, 04/19/99 12:29:07 GMT

    I need to drill some 1/8" diameter holes in a sheet of pre-tempered spring-steel 0.012" thick. I have woodworking skills and tools (including a light duty drill press). Can I simply drill the holes or would it be better to punch them (I have a 1-ton hand arbor press also). Thanks for any help.

    Barry Daniels -- bdaniels at Monday, 04/19/99 15:21:56 GMT

    Dear sir,
    Ihave just started out on my own with a small blacksmiyhing adventure and have still so much to learn.I would like to ask your advice with regards to diy power hammers.
    I would like to make a hammer using pneumatics,I have little experience with this form of power.I was hoping that you might have some idea where I could start on this proposed project of mine.
    with regards
    Craig Stephenson

    Craig Staphenson -- putski at Monday, 04/19/99 18:50:07 GMT

    I am the curator of a community museum in Ontario, Canada. A local resident has just purchased a Thompson forge manufactured in New Brunswick. He asked me if i could find out anything about it. Any ideas?



    James Fortin -- anderf at Monday, 04/19/99 19:33:14 GMT


    Be much easier to punch them, IF you have a die set that will work.
    Drilling tempered spring steel is an exercise in frustration. Been there, done that, burned up several drill bits.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Monday, 04/19/99 19:57:26 GMT

    looking for the phone number or adress of the manufacturers of spirotherm forges,or any info on converting one from natural gas to propane

    oakhills forge -- jroaddog at Monday, 04/19/99 20:37:39 GMT

    i am looking for plans to build an air driven hammer.
    can anybody tell me where i can find these.
    wlbrown at

    william l. brown -- wlbrown at Monday, 04/19/99 21:51:20 GMT

    William and Craig, I do not currently have air hammer plans but you can get the "Simple Air Hammer" plans from ABANA. Cost is around $20-$24. Ordering information is on their web-site:


    There is a modification of the control system for that machine on the Alabama Forge Council web-site (see out links page). I've been collecting parts for a Flea Market Air Hammer and should have an article soon.CONVERSION (NG to Propane): Most natural gas devices will run on propane IF there is a flow adjustment. If flow is controlled by an orifice then you need one about 30% smaller for propane. Note that many devices that do not require venting with natural gas may require venting when converting from one gas to another.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 22:16:42 GMT

    HOLES in STRING STEEL: Barry, Jim is right. I recently needed holes in some circular saw blade about 1/16" thick, didn't have a punch and die. Used an 1/8" drill to drill a mild steel "die" then cut off the shank and ground it square for a punch. Aligned by hand under the arbor press it made the hand full of holes I needed.

    NOTE: The limit to cold punching is a depth equal to the diameter of the punch. As the steel gets stronger (such as your spring sttel) this limit drops.

    -- guru Monday, 04/19/99 22:32:46 GMT

    My daughters class is having a colonial day this Friday and I am responsible for teaching the children about the blacksmith during that time period. I noticed the book "The Blacksmith in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg" and would like to find that book. Would a Barnes & Nobles have this book or should I contact Williamsburg?

    Molly -- Mtierney at Tuesday, 04/20/99 02:35:53 GMT

    I've searched through your archives for additional info on the water pail forge concept. Has no one experimented with this yet? Any V/A estimates available? Many thanks.

    Mike -- mwcuddy at Tuesday, 04/20/99 03:03:26 GMT


    I don't think your going to find it at Barnes & Noble.

    My copy has no copyright, no ISBN, and no publisher's address. It simply says: The Blacksmith in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg; An Account of his Life & Times and of his Craft; Williamsburg Craft Series; Williamsburg; Published by Colonial Williamsburg; MCMLXXVIII.

    This should be enough for your librarian to pull an inter-library loan. I do not have the W'burg address handy, but you can probably pull it off the net, if you can wade through the tourist trappings.

    Bealer's book has some useful information (see Jock's book reviews) and check the links to Saugus Ironworks and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Parks on the links page. National Park Service web pages usually have a link to relevant books sold by cooperating non-profit organizations. Lastly (actually, you're just getting started) see if the library has {or can get an inter-library loan for} Colonial Craftsmen [And the Beginnings of American Industry] by Edwin Tunis; Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, (c) 1965, LoC 75-29612, ISBN 0-690-01062-1.

    This is a fascinating period, and well worth the study. I hope you and your daughter enjoy it.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Tuesday, 04/20/99 03:18:00 GMT

    Molly, The booklet is no longer in print but as Bruce mentioned you may find it via interlibrary loan. Blacksmithing by hand has changed very little in the past 200 years. Take away electric tools and gas welding equipment and the modern blacksmith is no different than that of 1000 years ago. A couple months ago I wrote a story from a colonial apprentices's point of view. Let me see if I can find it for you.
    LaGrange Hoho (Mike): Nope! Voltage is 220 DC (just a TAD dangerous). It still has some possibilities and I would like to do some R&D on it in the future.

    -- guru Tuesday, 04/20/99 03:42:00 GMT

    to drill holes in hard or hardened steel, clamp up in the drillpress, maximum speed, high pressure, and use regular stonedrill with hardmetal tip, the thread coming up will be long and redglowing /protection!!!
    the tip lasts longer if there is a piece of the same material under the hole to avoid the breaking through problem

    stefan -- stefan at Tuesday, 04/20/99 07:16:02 GMT

    to get just a small area soft try to use a short section of stainless steel wit the end ground flat and press hard at max speed (works upp to about 2mm ~3/64" thick) the area in te area will turn yellow in just a short while (back off slooooowly) then you have a soft spot to drill :-)
    Kindly OErjan

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Tuesday, 04/20/99 09:50:52 GMT

    its a good way to braze something 90 deg to another objekt with silver solder, raise apply flux lower till yellov then apply silver solder preferably whit spindle stoped (it hurts less that way;-) molten silver solder slatering stings a litle :-) ). with a little tinkering maby evem welding (not on the average drill press though :-)

    OErjan -- see above :-) Tuesday, 04/20/99 10:05:21 GMT

    What is "deep draw" or "draw quality" steel? I saw a metal chasing demo at the Black Smith Guild of the Potomac Spring Fling last weekend. The girl was using 18guage sheet metal and called it deep draw. Can you identify this for me?

    Linda Gaspich -- lgaspich at Tuesday, 04/20/99 11:01:28 GMT

    Molly - an afterthought:

    Try Norm Larson Books, 5426 Hwy 246, Lampoc, CA 93436; 805-735-2095 (evenings). He may well have a copy, not to mention other useful books for the project (sorry, away from my NLB catalog).

    {Tell him "Anvilfire" sent you ;-)}

    Coudy and cool on the banks of the Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Sail into history with the Longship Company: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- bruce_blackistone at Tuesday, 04/20/99 12:39:12 GMT

    The 18 gage "deep draw" sheet steel that Kirsten Skiles was using for her high relief chasing demo is material made almost exclusivly for industrial use. It is used when stamping or forming things like car fenders and appliances, (deep draw) and they need to be samped without tearing.
    It is sold by the ton to manufacturers. I believe Kirsten said she found a place where she was able to get a 4'x8' sheet as a minimum purchase. She uses it because it is softer than the more commonly available sheet mild steel. It does work harden and must be annealed as you work it.

    Chris -- worsley at Tuesday, 04/20/99 12:48:39 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    I live in Maryland and I am new to the trade.
    I would like to have the names, addresses and e-mail addresses
    of companies that make regular steel that I could practice
    bladesmithing with before moving on to more aesthetically
    pleasing material.Thank you for your time and I appriciate
    your response.

    Thomas -- veltman1 at Tuesday, 04/20/99 18:30:17 GMT

    I beleive there is a formula for calculating and making the perfect scroll, can anyone tell me what it is and meybe explain it to a NON Mathmatitian :). Im also told there is a small computer programme that works out the formula, any thoughts?

    Thanks and Regards

    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Tuesday, 04/20/99 20:50:54 GMT

    Atli! Way to go. You are now imbued with all knowledge! At least thats what PawPaw claims happened to him after he was conferred with the "Order of Coloured Type" (grin)!

    Ralph Douglass

    Ralph -- ralphd at Tuesday, 04/20/99 22:20:23 GMT

    Guru or Wise & Devoted Minions,
    This is a little off topic. I'm looking for a source of mica sheet for use in lamps. Since this is an old and classical material and smithing is an old and classical art, this seemed like the place to ask.

    Thanks in advance
    -alan gering

    alan gering -- bradley at Tuesday, 04/20/99 22:51:53 GMT


    -- guru Tuesday, 04/20/99 23:01:14 GMT


    -- guru Tuesday, 04/20/99 23:01:30 GMT


    Me and Rodney Dangerfield! We get NO respect! (grin)


    I don't know exactly where I saw it, but there is someplace in W. Va. where they mined mica or "isinglass" for many years. one of the regulars is from W. Va. Ntech, can you help with this one?

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 04/21/99 00:00:47 GMT

    dear guru- I have need of some sort of small ring bender, or flat stock bender and i dont have $ 3000. to buy one---can you tell me how to build one for a lesser amt ? I make approx. 200 to500 ring of one sort or another each yr. [ 8 to 48 in.] 3\8s to 1\2 in. H>R> round and sq. thanxxxx

    jim from mich. -- ebubodo at Wednesday, 04/21/99 00:35:01 GMT

    OK Folks, I just posted Jim's clamp on the 21st Century Page as
    Clamp, PawPaw's

    MICA (Alan): McMaster-Carr lists thicknesses from 0.012" to 1" thick on page 2787 of catalog #102 (They are up to 105 now). Sheets were rather odd sizes but plenty big enough for a lamp. I'm not sure about transparency. See our link to them on our links page. Tell them who sent you (maybe a hint they should advertise here)!

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 01:21:52 GMT

    STEEL for BLADESMITHING (Thomas): For small quantities via mail order see McMaster-Carr (again). "Regular" steel is a little vague and you will need to be much more specific. They carry all types of alloy and carbon steels suitable for making blades. For larger quantities try J.T.Ryerson and Son. They have a steel wharehouse/service center in Baltimore. Ryerson carries a variety of steels specializing in heavy alloy plate. For specific "bladesmithing" materials try Bladeforums from our links page.

    However, I recommend that you study the subject before asking for any specific steel. There are TENS of THOUSANDS of different steels. Centaur Forge carries a a significant number of bladesmithing and metal working books as does Norm Larson. For details about the alloys you may be working with a copy of ASM's ASM Metals Reference Book is a must. We have a link to them on the links page.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 01:35:23 GMT

    Alan: I'll try to check with the US Geological Survey folks tomorrow. Mica is quite common in the metamorphic rocks of the Piedmont Plateau, so there should be a number of sources. I think it's still seen in some fancy lamp shades, and used to be used in vacume tube electronics.

    Ralph: Odd, I don't feel any smarter. We shall have to see the wonderful wizard about this. Don't even feel more colorful (yet). Jock's taken me on as Court Historian and Jester. When things get set up, I'll have a few comments on my views on history and technology. (That should be amusing!) I'd also like to thank Jock for enlisting me in this endeavor, and proving that you can fool some of the people all of the time. ;-)

    Visit your Department of the Interior: ; home of the NPS, USGS, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Minerals Management Agency and Office of Surface Mining.

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Wednesday, 04/21/99 02:57:40 GMT

    Bruce, is THAT colorful enough???? :) I'm still working on it. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 03:10:57 GMT


    Set him so that every other letter is blaze orange with the intervening letters being roay blue! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 04/21/99 03:15:54 GMT


    roay is the archaic spelling of royal blue. Our court historian will recognize it! (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 04/21/99 03:16:54 GMT

    Hey folks,just logged on after an extended stay at Grandmas(shes been ailing)and saw the reference to cow pads under hammers. I've had a mud flap off of an old grain truck under my 25#er for several years with no rot and not to much wear. They're CHEAP to!

    D. Neagle -- dneagle at Wednesday, 04/21/99 06:42:05 GMT

    I am a Spanish fan to the forge. And I am amazed of all the resources that it has more than enough the forge there is in USA.
    Here in Spain, a small editorial had published a wonderful book that I believe that it can be interested to many, it is written in Spanish but it is full with excellent drawings, details and very clear explanations. I believe that it can be interested to all.
    The address is:

    Jose Ant. Ariño -- jp.arinyo at Wednesday, 04/21/99 10:19:17 GMT

    Thank you Jose. It is indeed a beautiful book and the review contains many of the beautiful illustrations. I may see if I can reproduce the review on anvilfire in English.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 14:01:20 GMT

    So PawPaw, when you were a young man was "roay" still being used?(VBG)

    Ralph Douglass

    Ralph D -- ralphd at Wednesday, 04/21/99 14:19:00 GMT


    No, that was before my time. (grin)

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 04/21/99 14:29:23 GMT

    Another post drill question...
    I had been under the impression that post drills were made to accept bits with 1/2" shanks, and that blacksmiths made their own drills from rod stock of that size.

    Now I am looking at a post drill that is made to take 5/8" shanks, or so it appears. 3/4" won't fit, and 1/2" is clearly too small. I wonder what the story is?

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Wednesday, 04/21/99 15:20:45 GMT

    Jock, You mentioned J.T. Ryerson and Sons in your 113 lb. anvil article, do you happen to have the phone numbers to them handy? East and West coast, if they have multiple locations, please (I don't know where the guy lives that wants the info). Also am I correct in assuming that they sell the block of 4140 too? Thanks

    Mike Brock -- c.brock at Wednesday, 04/21/99 16:49:11 GMT

    My question is in regard to a powerhamer design. I would like to biuld one simialar to the midwest JYH, but have made changes to the motor position{up top},in order to leave room for a 20-30 ton press in the centre .How do I send you a drawing. is a tif file O.K.

    D,A ,Bond -- bad at Wednesday, 04/21/99 19:01:04 GMT

    guru: please tone down bruce color he's hurting my eyes ooouch! we all know that he's a "bright" person.bruce the man with the blinding knowledge and color to prove it! grin :)

    lochinvar (allen ) -- LochinvarSwords at Wednesday, 04/21/99 19:07:57 GMT


    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 04/21/99 22:21:54 GMT

    POST DRILLS (Neal): Hmm m . . All I've every seen was 1/2" but I've seen some LARGE post drills and didn't have a chance to check the spindle. Logicaly they should have larger spindle holes. Most do take 1/2" shanks and sets of "blacksmith" drills were made in sets from 1/16" (2mm) or so up. These were factory made twist drills. I have several old catalogs that should tell me but they are not "here".

    If you want to keep your drill as authentic as possible you can "bush up" modern drills with add on shanks made of mild steel. I've made them that were just pressed in and some with set screws. They should be drilled on a small lathe to keep the drill running true.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 23:08:24 GMT

    JYH (D.A. Bond): I can handle most PC graphics formats as long as they don't use a proprietary compression routine. JPEG or JPG files carry much more information than TIF's but 16 color or B&W TIF's are good too. Send ONE file as an attachment to your e-mail (as a test). My mailer accepts most attachments but some mailers merge the graphic in the letter and I can not seperate those. I can also handle DesignCAD files and DXF's.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 23:18:13 GMT

    D. Neagle, Using a mud flap from a truck is a great idea. Almost any type of forgiving material will work to isolate a hammer from a hard none forgiving surface. My 100Lb. Bradley Compact is setting on 2" oak boards. The most important thing it to have something, wood, cork or rubber. I had someone call me a while back who was thinking about buying a one piece Nazel 2B that had a cracked frame. He asked me what I thought about it and how it could be fixed. It could be fixed but I suggested that he not buy it. He then asked, what would cause the frame to crack? I told him to check if the hammer had some type of isolating pad between it and the floor. Sure enough, when he called me back, the hammer was setting on nothing but concrete. Setting a hammer up this way is a great way to turn a good hammer into scrape iron.

    Back to the cow pad. It might not hurt to put Tyvek between the hammer base and rubber cow pad. There might even be something better then Tyvek, that I'm not aware of. I'm setting up a 2 piece Nazel 1B in my shop. I'm trying to be as cerative as possible setting it up on a none permanent foundation. I'm using a 1-1/4" steel plate, oak timbers and layers of rubber padding. The reason I'm setting it up this way is. I'm going to putting an addition on the shop. After the addition all I'll have to do is move the Nazel to it's new location.

    Bruce R. Wallace -- Wallace Metal Work Wednesday, 04/21/99 23:26:44 GMT

    Mike, Joseph T. Ryerson is now merged with Tull metals and has outlets all over the country. They also have a web site:

    They sell A-36, 4140 AND 4150. SAE 4150 is recomended for large power hammer dies and I expect that it would make a good anvil. The last time I priced heavy alloy plate the "good" stuff was priced very close to the cheap stuff. . . Their trucks deliver to MOST cities so you don't need to live in Baltimore or Charlotte.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 23:32:00 GMT

    Lochinvar, That WAS a little bright wasn't it! I was looking for a red that wouldn't be confused with my maroon. Dang new HTML editor doesn't have as good a color picker as my OLD version of the same program. . . We are considering giving him a different font (Old English or German Black face :) but I'm having trouble finding out which are safe to use on Win3.1 to 98, AND Macs. . . Maybe something in Runes. . .

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/21/99 23:40:26 GMT

    RING BENDER (jim from mich): Check out the benders on the 21st Century page. IF you need lots of one size of relatively small rings the thing to do is to wind them on a mandrel then cut them apart. By bending up a whole bar you only end up with a couple waste pieces with flats on them.

    Make your small and medium size mandrels out of pipe. The bigger ones will have to be bent or rolled flat then welded up. Make them with a long handle and so they can be turned on a spindle. When you rotate the mandrel you don't need space to swing the bar around in the shop, the stock just feeds straight in. If you make LOTS of sizes this may be a problem but it IS the most fool proof way.

    Old fashioned blacksmith's tire benders work if you can find one. For the small bar you are speaking of, a three roll bender made with HD "cam" roller bearings will work. The rollers wouldn't have to be supported on both sides so the thing can be built on a heavy plate. The driven wheel can be turned by hand or with a low speed motorized gear box. The advantage of the three wheel bender is that it can be adjusted for many sizes. If you need help with the design I could post a sketch.

    -- guru Thursday, 04/22/99 00:01:36 GMT

    To Andrew
    There is a web page that shows you how to lay-out a sprial at

    Mark Damman -- ddamman at Thursday, 04/22/99 02:03:52 GMT

    I'm sorry I ment a scroll not a sprial

    Mark Damman -- ddamman at Thursday, 04/22/99 02:08:39 GMT

    Thanks Mark, I started to look it up and got distracted! Here's the direct hot link.

    -- guru Thursday, 04/22/99 02:11:00 GMT

    Whoa! Near knocked my eyes out. The boss thought I spill hot tea in my lap again! I guess Jock keeps experimenting.

    Molly: Another book for the Colonial blacksmithing project. See if the library can get "Colonial American Craftspeople" by Bernardine S. Stevens; Franklin Watts, NY; (c) 1993; ISBN 0-531-12536-X. Ran across it at our local library, and it has a good chapter on metalworkers, from silversmiths to die makers.

    Jose: Looks like a wonderful and informative book. I'll have to brush up on my Spanish.

    Mud Flaps: The heck with putting a hammer on them, that's what _I_ stand on! They're resistant to hot cut-offs, too, and emit a warning smell if something is truly smoldering.

    Still putting stuff away from the BGoP Spring Fling. Cool and wet on the banks of the Lower Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Thursday, 04/22/99 02:44:29 GMT

    Isinglass: I buy mine through the local wood stove distributor.
    That is what he uses as replacement glass in air-tight wood stoves.

    Jay-Jay -- jjoyce at Thursday, 04/22/99 05:03:05 GMT

    for those of you seeking an alternative to the slack tub may i suggest
    http;// tx2/korngod/chat.html

    newguy Thursday, 04/22/99 07:29:49 GMT

    The cow pad sample has soaked in transmission fluid for two days without appearing to absorb any or break down. Today I'll try wailing on it a bit. cold rain in Rochester MN brian rognholt

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Thursday, 04/22/99 10:42:32 GMT

    pub is buging again
    Thanks for a great forum

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Thursday, 04/22/99 13:02:20 GMT

    OErjan, I just cleared the log. It seemed to be working OK before and after on this side of the pond. We are looking into the posibility of a different server but I'm not sure that would help.

    On your post about ideal anvil steels - I haven't had time to study the question but when researching large power hammer dies I found that 4150 is commonly used AND has good availability. I'll have to compare your specs with the standard steel.

    -- guru Thursday, 04/22/99 13:36:15 GMT

    Dear Guru,

    I am looking for a source of blue steel wire in gauges ranging from 10-24 in order to make a maille shirt of a friend. I know that there are at least two methods of making blue steel from stainless steel, chemical blueing and heat treating. Caould you give me some assistance on either where to find blue steel. I will also be applying this to other pieces of medieval plate armour.

    Thaine Briscoe -- rurik at Thursday, 04/22/99 16:27:52 GMT

    "BLUE" STEEL WIRE: Some varieties of music and spring wire have a "temper" blue from the heat treatment. McMaster-Carr (see links page) carries 302/304 and 430 stainless steel lock wire, stainless spring and lashing wires. They also carry coiled (0ga to 40ga) and straight music wire, nichrome wire and monel wire. Tell them I sent you.

    -- guru Thursday, 04/22/99 19:16:14 GMT

    How about one of the following colors for Bruce "Atli" Blackistone- grey ( "#707070" ), steel blue 4 ( "#36648B" ), a bluish grey ( "#679495" ), or if you want a red, tomato ( "#FF6347" )

    Mike Brock -- c.brock at Thursday, 04/22/99 20:32:06 GMT

    I've been looking for an anvil, and just discovered one locally. I haven't seen it yet. It's described as being a farrier's single horn, 125#, in 'good' condition. I don't know the age, but it was manufactured by HILL of Birminghan, Alabama. Can you tell me anything about HILL and their products, and is this a good 'starter' (I know, anything is better than nothing!!)?

    Bill -- bill_h at Thursday, 04/22/99 20:45:38 GMT

    Are complete plans for a junkyard hammer available yet?

    Matt -- mwiggins at Thursday, 04/22/99 23:44:04 GMT

    Matt, I'm sorry, no. I've been working full time AND out of town since I announced the project (excuses, excuses). Bits and pieces ARE comming together and two more R&D hammers are being built along with modifications to the original. All is being photographed and recorded.
    Bill, I've never seen a "Hill" anvil. There are a lot of modern cast steel farriers anvils around.

    The problem with farrier's anvils are that they are made light to be easy to move while at the same time having a hugh horn and heal (equivalent to an anvil twice or three times the size). The result is that they are lousy for "heavy" forging being very springy. Early "farrier's" anvils were standard anvils with an extra pritichel hole ans sometimes a "clip" protrusion on the horn. Modern farrier's anvils are extream in shape to the point of looking like a cartoon.

    Buy it "right", then trade it later. We generaly purchase every anvil we find if its $1/pound or less. At a hammer-in it may sell oe trade for twice that. At the recent BGoP "Spring Fling" anvils were being swapped so fast that it was hard to keep up with which tailgater had what!

    -- guru Friday, 04/23/99 00:21:16 GMT


    125# is pretty hefty for farrier's anvils these days. Sounds like a good starting place. I keep my 70# Mankel on a nearby stump at elbow height for light and fine work. It also comes in handy for demonstrations because it's so portable. Between the long horn, narrow waist and long heel, you can just sort of wrap your arms around it and tote it off. I'm convinced Mankel made this model because 70# used to be the maximum weight that U.P.S. would ship in a single package. Also, for certain projects, that long heel, extra pritchel hole and clip table sometimes come in handy. If the face is clean and the rebound is good, you'll probably keep it, even if you get a larger London or bi-corn pattern anvil later on.

    Another cool night on the banks of the lower Potomac. Time for the evening patrol, someone's breaking into cars again!

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Friday, 04/23/99 02:48:16 GMT

    Here you have the steels I have so far.

    4150 From you jock
    .48-.53%C, .7-1.0%Mn,P 0.035%max,S 0.040%max, Si 0.15-0.30%,Cr 0.8-1.10% Mo o.15-0.25%

    I have been recommended 1080 (i have sadly not found specs yet in my Swedish books and I have even more sadly misplaced my copy of the machinery's handbook)

    My steel (home made specs)
    0.6-0.7%C 5%Cr 2%Ni 0.5Mn 0.25% low in P and S

    Steels recommended by the on site metallurgs

    steel one .69-.75%C * .25-.45%Si * .70-.85%Mn * .20%Cr and Ni

    steel two .70-.76%C * .25-.45%Si * .65-.85%Mn * .25%Cr and Ni

    steel tree .51-.55%C * .25-.45%Si * .75-.85%Mn * .85-.95%Cr and .25%Ni

    we all seem to have about the same idea (maybe because we have something right ;-) )

    OErjan -- pokerbacken at Friday, 04/23/99 07:05:27 GMT

    the thing differing is what we want the steel to do more than what steel to use ,i think as it's a great big compromise, it will fall differently for different persons.
    Am i way of line guru?
    nof for the steel but why we make so different choices.

    OErjan -- Pokerbacken at Friday, 04/23/99 13:01:41 GMT

    Guru, What is the strength differential of TGAW v.GMAW in mild or carbon steel? I also frequent a racing board where another person stated that TIG is MUCH stronger than MIG for a rollcage install. I know that GTAW is required for chomemoly but shouldn't a properly done GMAW be more than adequate? sun peeking out in Rochester! brian

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 04/23/99 13:55:42 GMT

    Guru, What is the strength differential of GTAW v.GMAW in mild/carbon steel? I also frequent a racing board where another gentleman stated that TIG is MUCH stronger than MIG. Shouldn't a properly setup MIG weldment be more than adequate for a non-chromemoly weld on a roll-cage? sun peeking out in Rochester! brian

    Brian Rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 04/23/99 14:01:53 GMT

    sorry 'bout that!

    brian rognholt -- brognholt at Friday, 04/23/99 14:03:06 GMT

    ON STEELS, OErjan, All material decisions are a compromise. A glass hard anvil is a joy to use but you see too many where huge chunks have broken out of the edges. I LOVE a hard anvil but in my "old" age I've come to appreciate an anvil without broken edges. A few U.S. foundries are casting 4140 anvils but I think they are too soft (or at least are not properly heat treated). That's why I went with 4150.
    Wheew! Brain, You are asking some pretty technical questions. Each of the various processes is stronger than the other in certain circumstances. The reason TIG is better for some frames is the same reason gas torch welding is required on tubular steel aircraft frames. The filler is the same as the base metal while the process itself helps produce a weld with less stress due to the larger heat affected area. In effect the finished weld is stress relieved.

    The extreamly high temperature of GMAW and the wire manufacturing process itself limits the alloys that can be welded properly. The process tends to produce a weak highly crystaline boundry layer under many circumstances.

    I've got several welding books and none give the type of comparison you are looking for. Probably for some of the reasons above. Too many variables (material, joint design, filler, machine capacity, operator. . .).

    -- guru Friday, 04/23/99 14:55:32 GMT

    Guru, I did a search of your web site and did not find the answer to the following question: Do you know the steel composition/ID number for railroad tie plates (the plates that sit under the rail and on top of the railroad ties)? I did the spark test and it would appear to be at least medium carbon steel. I would like to harden this steel for target plates and if I know the steel type then I can come close to the correct hardness that I want.


    Al Dolney

    Al Dolney -- al.dolney at Friday, 04/23/99 15:16:07 GMT

    I would like to band a 2 x 6 board to prevent it from splitting.
    Any suggestions on to make the band? I know to heat it to expand the

    Nicholas -- marceljan at Friday, 04/23/99 16:40:40 GMT

    Guru, I'm kind of new to blacksmithing and was just wondering if you might have some tips that will make my life easier and my forging my sucessful.

    Ty -- kubuki2 at Friday, 04/23/99 18:16:25 GMT

    Look in the area on this site " 21st Century" There are a lot of tips there. Also the Guru has several book reviews on his(this) site. Look them over and decide which books to get and read them.
    And keep looking at this site and others that may be simular.

    Welcome and good luck!

    Ralph Douglass

    Ralph -- ralphd at Friday, 04/23/99 19:20:42 GMT

    TIE PLATE MATERIAL (Al): I'm afraid not. Somewhere I had the specs for RR stakes. . . The info came from an old US Steel manual. I'm still looking for RR specs. The steel manual said what that company used not particularly what the RR required. All I can say is test a sample.
    SHRINK FIT (Nicolas): I'd say what you are trying to do is nearly impossible. Metal to wood shrink fits do not work well on small items AND not worth a darn on rectangular sections.

    -- guru Friday, 04/23/99 21:49:15 GMT

    Ty, the old saw "Strike while the iron is hot" is still number one. The trick to doing this is to have every move preplaned. There is very little spontaniety in forging. You need a well thought out plan before starting. This plan often includes the making of special tools in advance. I work things out on paper but most do not have this capability. Working in plasticine clay is a good way to plan your forging steps. Shape the clay in a bar and use your actual tools to see how the metal is going to move.

    Only a small part of blacksmithing is forge work. There is also a LOT to know about metalurgy, machine work (drilling holes) and shop practices in general.

    -- guru Friday, 04/23/99 22:09:45 GMT


    Instead of a heat shrink fit, why not try a mechanical fit, with two pair of bracket shaped clamps [ ] thightened using flanges, nuts and bolts? Sort of like the simple hose clamps on the older cars. The two pairs would be tightened at right angles to each other. Not as classy as a shrink fit, but mechanically more feasible.

    Hey, I believe in "crude but effective".

    Thunderstorms have passed through on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Go viking: (cASE sENSITIVE)

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Saturday, 04/24/99 02:36:11 GMT

    I'm new and im only 14 i bought a small forge and im lookin how to build weapons of the Renessiance. Please e-mail me if you know anything

    Isaiah -- blackblade68 at Saturday, 04/24/99 17:51:25 GMT

    Isaiah, There is a huge amount to learn. See our article Getting Started. You need to learn the basics first. The books recomended in the article will get you started. We have links to armour sites and will have a helmet making article here (soon Bruce!). Then you will want to specialize. Centaur Forge and Norm Larson have books specificaly about armour and its making.

    -- guru Saturday, 04/24/99 21:21:34 GMT

    many thanx gurusan, looked at the 21 century files, yes i must build a 3 roller ring maker,glad to hear i dont need but one bearing per roller shaft, should i use 1 in shaft say 5 or 6 in. long,mounted on heavy plate [3\4 in ?] mounted with a flange bearing, with bottom 2 rollers chain driven? how do i make the top middle roller slide up and down? thanx for your advice!--jim

    jim from mich. -- ebubodo at Saturday, 04/24/99 22:48:30 GMT

    I have been forging for about tweleve years now. I have now determined that I would like blacksmithing to be my choice of careers. I just need to know , hwo do I get started? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks again!!!

    Bobby Lancaster

    Bobby Lancaster -- blancaster at Sunday, 04/25/99 03:15:42 GMT

    Bobby, In the U.S. in general, blacksmithing is the business of the self employed. Your inititive, your capital, your risk. Besides business accumen and knowledge of blacksmithing it requires the ability to design and sell your work. If you can't answer your own question this is probably not the route for you.

    Then, there are a FEW shops that employ smiths. Most do industrial work such a sharpening jack hammer bits or production forging under big forging presses. The decorative shops that hire smiths are few and far between. AND even though you don't think of decorative work being like production work try counting the identical picketts in a couple hundred feet of fence or rail. Then count the sets of four scrolls on EACH pickett. Some "special" jobs still have thousands of identical parts. A shop hiring a smith will be looking for someone to do this type of work so THEY can do the more intresting or difficult work. They will also be looking for someone with welding skills and perhaps some experiance with machine tools.

    Check with the ABANA Journeyman program, join ABANA and NOMMA and look for ads in their publications. Be prepared to relocate. There is a LOT of work in the Western resort areas but the cost of living there will make the wages a lot less attractive.

    -- guru Sunday, 04/25/99 05:19:56 GMT

    To build and open sided bender you will need a heavy base plate (3/4" min and 1" recommended). The rollers should be short (no wider than the thickness of the plate since you are bending small stoc. The third "adjustable" roller will need to suported on both end in a yoke which [rpbably means a slot in the plate. Most benders use a screw to support/move the thrid wheel.

    -- guru Sunday, 04/25/99 06:05:59 GMT

    Wheew! I shouldn't try typing in my sleep. . .

    The point about adjustable large circle benders is that there is no easy way to build them. The third roller must be adjustable to change the radius AND is often adjusted while rolling or between passes. One option (since it sounded like you will be bending long coils) is to use a series of holes in the plate. The third roller could be a heavy duty "cam roller" with a 1" or larger shank. Determining the bend radius would be by trial and error and the start would have to be made manualy. Stagering the holes so that they are not in a straight line (possibly two parallel lines) would give more adjustment.

    The two fixed rollers work better if they are both driven. On my Champion tire bender they have two large diameter gears (about 8" dia. 5dp by 1" wide) on the two feed rollers. A third shaft with a pinion (small) gear meshes one of the large gears. You can turn the bender through the small gear getting a large mechanical advantage or directly crank one of the other shafts. With an 18" (460mm) handle you rarely need to use the small high torque drive.

    THE LATHE: You can build this type of machinery without a lathe but it really makes the job better. Thats why I recommend to any serious smith that they have a lathe and heavy duty drill press in their shop. Then add a small milling machine or a shaper and you can build almost anything.

    Then I'm told "Well, I've got a guy down the street. . .",
    OK, But a few favors now and then are one thing but when you need a dozen bushings for a bender you've designed or more than one set of dies for your power hammer. . . This is the kind of work you friend down the street charges $30-$50 an hour for.

    THEN, there are the blacksmithing jobs you can do on a lathe. Did you know that is is faster, cleaner and more precision to machine tennons on pickets than to forge them? IT IS! A friend of mine was doing about a half mile of fence and had litteraly thousands of pickets to put tennons on. HE could do it fairly quickly but it takes a lot of skill and he needed something minions could do. So I said,
    "Turn them."
    He said, "No way!"
    So I chucked a piece of the 3/4" (19mm) square bar he was using in his old antique 12" lathe, set the tool for a 1/2" diameter and cut a 4" long tennon in one pass (about 20 seconds after getting set up)! I told him to put a stock stop and carriage stock on the lathe and almost anyone could make those tennons with the perfect diameter and square shoulder. It reduced part of the job that was expected to take weeks to just a few days.

    On the same job (once in the machining mode) he found that cutting lap joints in the top rail was also much cleaner and more efficient than doing it by hand. Why lap joints? Well, even though this was hundreds of feet of fence it was at an historic mansion and the entire fence was to use classic joinery (no field welding). Everything was rivited in place.

    If you are going to compete with imported goods or a prefabricated product you MUST be as efficient as possible. This doesn't mean cutting corners or reducing the quality of your craftsmanship. It means finding a better way to do the same job. That means machines, hand OR power.

    JUNE 11-13 at the Upper Midwest Regional Blacksmithing Conference there will be demonstrations titled "Blacksmith Meets the Machinist", wish I could be there. See the NEW edition of the anvilfire! NEWS for details.

    -- guru Sunday, 04/25/99 13:44:49 GMT

    At the risk of throwing a skunk into the A/C again I have been off line for a few months has there been any progress, interest or discussion on the ELSH (or whatever the acronym is)hammer project? And BTW another intresting aside on the mig vs tig discussion I have found by sad expierience that mig welds often are mechanicaly sound but literaly will NOT hold water, thet leak at the juncture of the weld and the parent metal, just the nature of the beast as some of my leakers have passed ultrasound or x-ray testing

    Bob Keyes -- keyes47 at Sunday, 04/25/99 16:31:19 GMT

    Bob, ELSA is one of those expensive R&D projects that is on the back burner. Right now my efforts are working toward the JYH booklet and some R&D in that area (OBTW - anvilfire is the sponsor and official page of the ABANA 2000 JYH Event)

    MIG welds are intresting. I've run what looked like a perfect bead on clean lightly scaled steel and been able to lift the bead right out of the joint. Looked good, wasn't run hot enough. You also can't weld through ANY amount of paint, rust or oil. All produce gases which bubble through the weld leaving a porus mess. You also can't weld where there is a draft or breeze (cover gas blows away). Flux core wire helps a lot of these problems but requires a more expensive machine than the small MIG units.

    Stick welding is still the best when dealing with typical shop construction projects.

    -- guru Sunday, 04/25/99 17:24:30 GMT

    I would like to find out if there is someplace in Western Washington State where I could take some basic classes in Blacksmithing, setting up my own forge, etc.

    I am a complete novice with some welding experience and a desire to learn. I would like to include my 17 year old son in this activity as an experience we can share together.

    Any help from you would be appreciated.

    Thank You.

    Mark McKinley -- muffy at Sunday, 04/25/99 17:59:55 GMT

    I have been looking for a wood preservative called Watco. Jeff Mohr uses it to treat his fireplace sets. It is put on cold after the iron is buffed. Have any of you seen it or know where I can get some.

    Barry Myers -- bmyers647 at Sunday, 04/25/99 18:15:38 GMT

    Mark, Check the ABANA website for a chapter near you. The ABANA chapters hold monthly meetings and some have demonstrations and classes at EVERY meeting. See our article "Getting Started" for other particulars. AND for a glimpse of what goes on a Chapter meets see the anvilfire NEWS. I'm in the middle of posting the Spring Fling issue and there are 11 more volumes on line. Check it out! There's still lots more to come.

    -- guru Sunday, 04/25/99 19:03:11 GMT

    Barry, Watco penetrating danish oils can usually be found at Home Depot or Lowes If you have one near you in the section with the stains and varnishes or you can order it from Woodcraft 210 Wood County Industial Park Po box1686 Parkersburg,WV 26102-1686 1800-535-4482 it's a very good finish for wood I'll have to try it on metal.

    Lou White -- anglou at Monday, 04/26/99 01:12:30 GMT

    Thanks Lou!

    -- guru Monday, 04/26/99 21:42:26 GMT

    What is the fastest way to rust iron? Method must be environmentally

    j. hess -- phess at Tuesday, 04/27/99 01:53:22 GMT

    Is there a fast way to rust iron. Must be environmentally safe,

    j hess -- phess at Tuesday, 04/27/99 02:00:07 GMT

    RUST in large quantities has been deamed by the US-EPA to NOT be environmentaly safe and therefore many huge junk yards were forced to sell their scrap at any price. I think the Japanese were behind the EPA decision. . . (it was the microscopic lead content).

    Good ol'e Chlorox Bleach makes INSTANT severe rust. The iron salts and whatever left over are not too good. . . But its less toxic than the stuff they sell in the next isle over to put on your lawn. So what's environmentaly safe?

    Salt water and an electrical current speed things up greatly. Any acid (including vinegar) will speed up the rusting process. Residue is STILL acidic waste even if you start with natural apple vinegar.

    -- guru Tuesday, 04/27/99 02:13:18 GMT

    On rusting iron FAST!! Birchwood Casey has a solution called "Plum Brown" that is available even at the blackpowder section of the sports dept. at Wallmart. Depending on how much iron you need to rust, this stuff works great. I have used it for years to "brown" iron parts on muzzle loaders. You can vary the results and still do it fast. Good luck

    jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at Tuesday, 04/27/99 02:37:22 GMT

    Mark re classes in Western Washington....the North West Blacksmith Asso is the local ABANA chapter & they do have classes during the year...unfortunately I don't have my newsletter handy. You might try dropping Don Kemper (local Pres) a note & I am sure he can fix you up. He can be reached via: kemper at

    Bob -- robert_miller at Tuesday, 04/27/99 05:21:48 GMT

    I found a farriers supply near me today that has anvils that look a lot like the Peddinghaus. They are made in Larkspur, Colorado by Cliff Carroll(no relation I think) Got any info on them? thanks

    Jerry Carroll -- birdlegs at Tuesday, 04/27/99 23:16:25 GMT

    Jerry, I haven't heard of that one and its not listed in the anvil book. If its U.S. made then it will be a cast steel anvil of some type. Why not ask the supplier the particulars? There are a lot of good cast steel anvils around but there are also some not so good. The heat treating is the big difference.

    Take a ball bearing and do the rebound test (see the anvil article on the 21st Century page). If its got good rebound it is properly heat treated. If the ball bounces less than 40% and marks the anvil it is as-cast or fully annealed (TOO soft). If it bounces around 20% and leaves no mark then the anvil is cast iron (a door stop).

    Please note that modern cast iron anvils ARE NOT the same as the old Eagle anvils that had a steel face/horn insert. These were fairly decent anvils made by a process that is no longer done. Modern cast iron anvils are 100% cast iron and are nothing more than door stops.

    -- guru Tuesday, 04/27/99 23:41:52 GMT

    Dear Guru,
    Well, my shopmate has decided to move across the country. Both she and her tools will be greatly missed. I'm now in the situation where I must purchase some more of my own tools. A welder is at the top of the list. I do mostly light work and don't require anything heavy duty. I was thinking about one of those Lincon weldpacks. I live in the ridiculously expensive city of San Francisco so unfortunately money is an issue. What do you recomend?

    Jessica -- jessieqqq at Wednesday, 04/28/99 05:40:57 GMT

    I have several pices of rusty steel that i would like to preserve in their current state, rust and all if possible.

    Is there an oil coating that will do this? preferably one that will dry and not stay wet, and one with as little colour or clear if possible.

    (danish oil seems to work but will cost a small fortune for the abount required).


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Wednesday, 04/28/99 05:56:08 GMT

    Do you know of any web-sites with large bellow's construction
    hints, found a while ago some good ones with pictures and even how
    to make your own blowers, but my main interrest lays in the large bellows....please help


    robert -- rschmidb at Wednesday, 04/28/99 07:56:01 GMT


    I have the Lincon Wedpak100. I also purchased the gas relay kit. (t doesn't come with the basic welder) I've been extremely satisfied with it, and have had no problems as long as I use it inside. Trying to use it outside is an exercise in frustration, the slightest wind blows the gas away from the weld.

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Wednesday, 04/28/99 13:14:48 GMT

    Jerry Carroll: Cliff Carroll makes new farrier anvils. They are cast steel and seem to be decent quality, may be good for portable and demo anvil as largest is only around 130 lb range. Try contacting the company for more info they are in Texas I believe or call Centaur Forge they may carry these anvils or at least be able to tell you a little about them.

    Jeff -- jdegraff86 at Wednesday, 04/28/99 13:30:51 GMT

    Jessica, Lincoln and Miller both make good small machines. I recommend purchasing from a local dealer that you do regular business. Your dealer is more important than the factory warranty.
    Andrew, Clear laquer is the best but ANY coating is going to have a tendancy to create a wetting afect darkening the surface. Test what ever you use. In the U.S. we have a clear coat made by or called "Cryalon" that comes in spray cans. It seems to produce as near an original color without darkening as any finish.
    BELLOWS: Robert, Look on our 21st Century page. There are photos of a bellows I built in 1977 and are still in use.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/28/99 13:57:00 GMT

    I visited Cliff Carroll's shop and purchased a used blacksmith anvil from him. His farrier's anvils are cast elsewhere and then flame hardened and finished in his shop. He was even willing to talk about custom work if you wanted something special. His number is 303 681-2643. Next time I'm there I'm going to buy one of his brass hammers.

    Jim -- Jdickson at Wednesday, 04/28/99 15:02:01 GMT

    The blacksmith's post drill that I recently mentioned that takes drill bits with a 5/8" diameter shaft was made by Canedy Otto Mfg. Co. of Chicago Heights, Illinois. Can anyone provide any fascinating facts about this company and their drills?

    Neal Bullington -- NRobertB at Wednesday, 04/28/99 18:14:18 GMT

    Thanks Jock, I will see if that product is avalible over here.

    Im not to worried about the darkening/wet effect however i dont want it to turn bright orange :). An oil based product seemed to have the bonus of being cheaper and the ability to get into all those awkward little places.

    I guess if I stop the oxegen getting to the surface then the rusting will be retarded and the item's life expectancey should be prolonged?


    Andrew Hooper -- andrew at Wednesday, 04/28/99 20:24:21 GMT

    my question is , how to make charcoal with or out of a 55gal. drum, or any other method except the earth covered mound? i intend to use this as fuel. i have no e-mail address yet so i'll write back later. thank you.

    jarrod Wednesday, 04/28/99 21:59:55 GMT

    CHARCOAL: Jarrod, All you need is to start a good hot fire in the barrel, fill with clean wood lumps, wait until it is all burning a little and then cover with an air tight lid. If the barrel has air holes in the bottom, you may want to close all but one small hole. The lid should close but not create a pressure seal as gases created must vent out. Wait until completely cold before opening. The contents will be largely charcoal, some ash and a little partial coaled wood. The partialy coaled wood can be used in the forge for starting fires. Store in a dry place.

    -- guru Wednesday, 04/28/99 23:23:09 GMT

    Good evening!
    I realize that your site deals with forging, and blacksmithing type metalworking, yet I hope you may have some knowledge to at least steer me in the apropriate direction.
    basically I am looking to find a supplier of bismuth, that can supply that metal to my specifications. I ask you, figuring you might know, in dealing with metal dealers, who would be the ones to ask..
    if it helps, I am looking to purchase bismuth foil strips, in size ranges of appx. 10 cm's wide, 1/2 - 1 Km in length, and 3 microns thick.
    I hope I am not wasting your time with this query, I just hoped you could at least set me on the track to find a good metal supplier/fabricator.
    thank you.
    sincerely, Mike Indelicato

    Mike Indelicato -- mikeindy at Thursday, 04/29/99 01:41:43 GMT

    In all of the blacksmithing books that I have read, the authors state to burn a good bituminous coal in the forge . I know that a bituminous coal produces coke that is mostly carbon and ash. Coke burns hotter that "green" coal and does not add any undesirable elements to the steel. But what about anthracite coal? It is high in carbon content (86 to 98%) and low in volatile matter. It seems that other than the cost, it would be a good fuel to use in the forge. Please explain what characteristics one could expect when burning anthracite coal and the pro's and con's with its use in the forge.

    Jim Bowes -- jsb at Thursday, 04/29/99 11:17:03 GMT

    Just to amplify a bit on Jock's post about making charcoal (I make quite a bit this way). I use a barrel that has one end open. Cut an opening in the 'bottom' about a foot square and get a sheet of iron enough bigger that it will completely cover the hole. Get another sheet of iron big enough to cover the open end of the barrel. Pack the wood carefully into the barrel. Get as much as you can in there, but don't fill beyond the rim. (this has the bottom w/ square hole down.) Take the larger sheet of iron and cover the open end. Roll the whole mess over so the barrel is upside down (square hole up). Prop the barrel up about 1/2" all the way around to let air in. Light around the bottom with paper and kindling or a propane torch. You are looking for an even circular fire. Watch the surface of the barrel for temperature. For a quick & dirty temperature indicator, you can wipe an oily rag over it. It should get hot enough to smoke the oil. You'll have great volumes of smoke coming out the square hole. This is good. After a couple of hours, the smoke from the square hole will start to decrease dramatically. This is your cue to pull out the props that hold the barrel 1/2" above the base plate. Put the smaller plate over the square hole. Now pack some dirt around the bottom and over the plate over the square hole. You don't want any air to get in. After a day to cool, you'll find that your wood has shrunk to about 1/2 its original volume, and is mostly charcoal with an amazingly small amount of ash. I've found that if you keep the thickness of the coaling wood down to 2" thick, it will be ready to seal the barell in about 4 hours (assuming you get a good burn). Biggest problem I have is letting it go -- I keep feeling that it's burning too hot and I'll just have ash. Wrong -- it needs the heat to coal the wood. Most of my failures have been from choking the air down too far or sealing too early. The best charcoal has ALL the smoke cooked out of it, has no tendency to pop or crack, and is still solid enough that it doesn't disappear in a cloud of sparks when you blow on it with the bellows. Good luck!

    Morgan Hall -- morganh at Thursday, 04/29/99 13:57:11 GMT

    BISMUTH (Mike): Years ago we used a product called Ceracast by Ceramet. It was a low melting point bismuth alloy. They also made a version that expanded when it solidified for mounting shafts and ways. I don't have a Thomas Register here but I think you could find them there if they haven't changed their name. There is also a primary metals (elemental) supplier but I'll have to dig that catalog out from my home office. Then I found these guys on the net:

    -- guru Thursday, 04/29/99 14:21:58 GMT

    Morgan THANKS! I'll post that somewhere permantly if you don't mind.

    -- guru Thursday, 04/29/99 14:24:15 GMT

    COAL, COKE, ANTHACITE (Jim): Coke burns hotter than coal because the volitiles have been gased off (requiring heat to do so). Coke can still contain the impurities brought with the coal it was made from (ie sulphur). The volitiles in Bituminous coal actualy help in the coking process as the coal becomes semi-molten and the gases can excape. This process also alow the coal to stick together forming larger lumps of coke.

    Anthacite is very low in volitiles and burns very hot on its own. However it is like foundry coke in that it needs a continous blast of air to keep the fire going. It also does not coke down well in a forge environment. Many smiths use anthacite because its what they can get. Its not as easy to work with as a good bituminous but it does work. A deeper fire is required both to keep the fire going and to use up excess oxygen.

    -- guru Thursday, 04/29/99 14:40:40 GMT

    do you have a E mail adress or phone num. for Jerry Kilpatrick Willis CA.

    Bill Epps -- BEpps at Thursday, 04/29/99 16:30:30 GMT


    Jere at

    Jim Wilson -- pawpaw at Thursday, 04/29/99 22:34:28 GMT

    Further notes on anthracite (Jim):

    Historically, some smiths used it as their main source in the 19th century, and the Greenland Norse are also said to have used it, due to a lack of trees for anything, much less charcoal.

    As Jock states above, as with charcoal, you need a good deep fire, especially for welding. My biggest problem with it was the clinker. With bituminous coal, the clinker, like the coke, tends to consolidate itself into larger lumps. With anthracite, the clinker forms as small, discrete pieces. When you're cleaning out the forge, especially when preparing for a welding fire, it's madening to sort out the little chunks, or to just waste the fines by throwing out the baby AND the bathwater.

    On the positive side, it's common, it's cheap, it's just about smokeless when it finally gets going (did I mention ignition? with paper, shavings, tinder, twigs, sticks and splits?) and cokes up (or cooks up) a bit. Also, when you turn up the blower, it doesn't shower you with myriad small hot coals the way charcoal does in a bottom blast forge.

    A full moon above the clouds on the banks of the lower Potomac.

    Visit your National Parks:

    Come have a row with us:

    Bruce Blackistone (Atli) -- asylum at Friday, 04/30/99 03:03:05 GMT

    Counter   Copyright © 2001 Jock Dempsey, Cummulative_Arc GSC