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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 April 9 - 17, 2002 on the Guru's Den
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Hello guru
I found a wrought iron gate that is screwed together and has brass flowers brasied to it. i dont see any welds on it by this little bit of information can you possibly know how old this gate might be.
thank you
   frank - Tuesday, 04/09/02 00:50:02 GMT

Gate Age: Frank, it could have been made yesterday or in the 1930's. Torch brazing with oxyacetylene didn't become popular until after the early 1900's. However, brazing WAS done in the forge in the 1800's. An expert would have to look to tell. But dating this piece could be difficult.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/09/02 02:06:07 GMT

I'm thinking about buying a lathe. My budget is limited and so is shop space. I want to buy new and avoid the hassle of auctions and the dubious pleasures of poking sticks at rusty bits of iron in the back of someone's barn.
I'd like to be able to do some rifle barrel length projects
which means 19 inches between centers is the minimum.
Grizzly is just a middlin distance away but I've also been
looking at Smithy's catalog. Given the parameters I have what advice could someone give me? And would there be any advantage to a mill/lathe combo?

   - Khym - Tuesday, 04/09/02 05:10:41 GMT

Hello. I'm 32 years old and i'v been a farrier for about 4 years, but it was 5 years ago. Now starting metal mayhem again, as a hobby to start with. Only one "good" question sofar:
I have seen a lot of beautiful sword and armory cataloques. How many % of these metal artworks are truely made by hand. I mean, without pre-made molds or machinery. The carvings are sometimes very beautiful, and i doubt that they would be sold so cheap if they were carved by hand. (3700 dollars for a total armour with chest carvings sounds cheap to me. Not that i could afford one.)I'm trying to teach myself to make one some day.
   Marko Lehto - Tuesday, 04/09/02 07:30:58 GMT

Stormdrains and 'tin' steel cans

I am new to making damascus, and being a poor sop I don't have access to any real materials besides what can be found at the local dump.
I recetly found a few shattered stormdrains and manhole covers and was wondering how well they would work in making damascus.

I am also wondering about 'tin' steel cans, like soup cans interms of working them and their weldability.(maybe use them as a cheap source of steal for damascus??)
   jan - Tuesday, 04/09/02 13:19:31 GMT

sword and armour made by hand: kinda depends on what you mean with "by hand". I would say less then .1 of 1% have full armor and weapons done completely by hand. That would be without a motorized fan for the blower, no machine hammers of any sort, no powered hand or bench grinders or sanders. And if they put out a catalog, I would suspect that percentage will drop even further. That said, I have had friends build pieces completely from scratch. But most wouldn't sell them to save their lives.
   Escher - Tuesday, 04/09/02 14:28:45 GMT

Good Morning. I am a older machine designer/project engineer and have been a fabrication/machine shop inspector for the last eight years. I am currently involved with a nasty cold weld problem in a relatively unfriendly and difficult to access environment. The subject is large dia ductwork with refractory lining and zinc paint. I have mechanically removed sections of weld that clearly display cold welds. It was difficult and time consuming. I have to test the remaining welds and know no NDT that suits this weld - a small fillet T joint. I have heard about a muriatic acid test. Does the Guru have any reference to this procedure or have any suggestions.
   Buren - Tuesday, 04/09/02 14:33:59 GMT

Jan; storm drain covers are made from cast iron--it will melt before your other steel will come up to welding temp, it can't be hot forged and most types can't be cold worked as well---but it casts a treat and is cheap!

Tin can is very thin and is coated to boot; *not* a good starter material.

My suggestions: lawn mower blades, leaf springs, coil springs, sheet steel---ask a local SCA armourer about getting the scraps they can't use (no stainless please!), band saw blades and strapping used for lumber bundles---ask at a local machine or fab shop for thrown out blades, the local lumberyard usually is happy to get rid of strapping.

The local ornamental iron fab shop *gives* me more metal than I can haul in my PU why restrict yourself only to the dump?

NB I cut the BSB with a pair of bullnose snips *always* cut from the soft back of the BSB toward the hardened part and break the hardened part instead of trying to cut it---easier on the hands and shears.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 04/09/02 15:15:11 GMT

Thanks Guru -- Thanks for the video of the steam hammer (4/5 at 22:43) It's impressive to see a hammer of this size working, I would like to see more of this kind of thing. To bad the audio is messed up. I think somebody is working with an air tool near by.
Anyway I'm happy to see anything. It's hard for me to find anything like this. If you run on to more please put it where we can access it.

Thanks again.

Old Chief
   Old Chief - Tuesday, 04/09/02 15:22:19 GMT

Old Chief,
I don't think there was anyone with an air tool near the hammer in the vidio when i took it. That is just the way that system sounds. That video was taken at Solmet Technologies in Canton Oh. They have a website and if you contact them, they may let you come take a tour of thier shop, esp if you explain the project you are working on. They may also be able to direct you to other shops. Their is a Closed Die shop in Clevland (Park Ohio Drop Forge) that still uses steam to run thier hammers and they have one with a 50,000 lb ram on it. It is very impressive. You might try contacting them and also Canton drop forge, another shop in Canton.
Good Luck
   Patrick - Tuesday, 04/09/02 16:11:47 GMT

Lathes: Khym, You purchasing plan is a plan to throw away your money. The majority of the hobiest lathes are very dubious and machine free machining alumininum OK but make a mess of steel. The base price of these machines is just a starter.

You more then double the base price when you add the MINIMUM tooling (right, left and straight tool holders, bits, boring bars, drive dogs, steady rest, follower rest, three and four jaw chucks, live center, bull center, cup center (both preferably live too), good Jacobs chuck for the tailstock with arbor to fit). Then there is a knurling tool, number and letter sets of driils, micrometers (0-1") and verniers (0-6").

A precision lathe is worthless without the measuring tools to go with it. . . Then, do they have a quick-change feed box? Most hobby lathes do not and it makes it a real pain to chase threads of even change feeds using "change gears".

There is a FINE lathe advertised on the Hammer-In. Yes, it probably weighs a ton or more. I know of another similar lathe in NC. It might still be there.

Used lathes WITH attachments are a bargain. In 1980 I paid $1,500 for a OLD 1916 South-Bend 13" with a long bed (50" betw. centers). The feed reversing mechanism casting was broken and the to it gears worn out. But the lathe came with chucks and a large set of attachments including a "Royal" live center set. I used the lathe ITSELF to produce the replacement reversing part from a steel weldment and paid $350 to have a set of (3) gears made. I still need to finish putting the new motor and mount on it. I'll have over $2,000 invested in this machine and still consider it a great deal. Even half repaired it did a job that nearly paid for the machine.

About the same time my dad bought a NEW Atlas lathe and attachments. He spent over $900. It was junk and constantly needed repairs. I bought a used one for $100 that was a slightly older model and swapped out the cheap newer zinc head stock for the older cast-iron head. This helped a lot with ridgidity but didn't cure the all the problems (plastic gibs, 3/16" belts. . .). He eventualy sold it including a heavy steel base that cost half as much again as the machine. . . for much less than what was invested. THIS machine had been purchased to replace a 40 year old 6" Craftsman of similar design. I still have the old Craftsman. . .

Like finding anvils, these machine are where you find them. After a time you will find more than you can find a place for. Be patient. As long as the spindle bearings and bed are not worn out the old flat belt drive machines are great tools. Many like my South-Bend have quick change gear boxes. Most can be had for the cost of a "new" toy lathe.

The place to start is with a copy of the South-Bend booklet, "How-to Run a Lathe". Once you know a little about them and what to look for it will be much easier.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/09/02 17:12:06 GMT

NDT Testing: Buren, This is a difficult subject. The only folks I have worked with in this area were testing piping welds in nuclear plants. They used very expensive ultrasonic testing equipment. These required a fitted acrylic "shoe" surrounding the transponder and gliserine "couplant" to fill air spaces between the shoe and pipe.

I helped design and build a couplant feed and retrieve system for this testing. Gliserine was pumped to the UT shoe via a metering pump and then sucked up at vents in the edge of the shoe. A modified cyclonic air filter was used to seperate the gliserine from the suction air so the gliserine could be recycled. At the time they were concerned about the flood of couplant that would be dripping off the pipes. I built two of these systems but didn't have anything to do with the UT part except take part in testing.

We also fabricated marnetic tracks for a little robot that mainipuated the shoe on large diameter pipe. However, I think for the type of joint you are testing they hand manipulated the UT shoe.

Bad welds generaly have pin holes that can be detected with dye penatrant. Acid might be detecting flux. . . never heard of it though.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/09/02 17:28:37 GMT

Made by Hand This is a very subjective statement. To be purely "hand made" would invite the definition of "without tools". Most machinery in the hand crafts field are labor saving devices that replace either vast amounts of time doing things the slow hard way OR replacing many other laborers that we once employed in the field. When cheap labor is not available machines must be used.

In the metalworking field there have been machines almost since the begining. A bellows is a hand powered "machine" that was water powered at a VERY early date for manufacturing iron and steel. Water powered trip hammers were used in the same process dating back at least to the Roman Empire.

A foot or hand powered grinding wheel is a "machine" and was also water powered for grinding swords at a very early date.

The lathe is one of the earliest machines and predates the iron age. Small lathes were hand powered by the operator but most often by a laborer. The invention of the foot powered lathe let the operator use both hands to guide a tool while powering the lathe. However, in large shops the "Great Wheel" was turned by laborers or children.

The above machines were also animal powered from very early dates. Child labor was also very common and still is in part of the world.

Today, many imported items are hand made the "old" way by people in virtual slavery. Or at least economic slavery. In India and I suspect other parts of Asia young children hand hammer gold leaf between layers of hide. They sit on the ground swinging a hammer at the hide packet all day long for pennies a day. Yes, this is truely HAND MADE.

In developed nations we consider this child abuse and have laws against child labor. We also have laws against slavery but import goods made by people that live in economic conditions worse than slavery. However, our governments and ecomomic systems often support these abuses to our "economic" benefit. Currently international "Free Trade" means having the right to raid ecomomies to keep people in economic slavery.

So, when you insist that something be "HAND MADE", consider the economic consequences and reality.

The fact is that in "hand work" you often get a higher quality product from the craftsperson that has every machine and labor saving device at their disposal. It is how these machines are applied that makes work "hand made". Not how the labor was performed.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/09/02 18:10:53 GMT

Ok,I've searched the archives for as long as I can take...

This has been discussed many times, but I've not found a "complete" answer....

I've been given a 55# Cast Iron ASO. Now, I'm not going to be producing great works of art (or ever bad works of art) with it, as currently I'm mostly casting aluminum. The problem is, I'm getting annoyed at constantly denting the face..

So, The question is, What is the best way to go about hardening the face? (That is without placing it in front of a heavy door that needs to remain open..)

As far as I can tell, I seem to have the following options:

1: Case hardening - Pro's are just enough surface depth to keep from denting.. Con's - Big PITA to heat and quench.

2: Bolt on a piece of tool steel to cover the face. Pro's - quick and dirty Con's - Will kill what little rebound the ASO has naturally.

3: Weld on a 13ga piece of steel and then hardface - Pro's are that it should be sufficient to support the hardfacing.. Con's - without enough penetration the steel will seperate easily.

3: Weld buildup material over the face, grind flat and then hardface. Pro's - Definite penetration.. Con's - Time intensive..

As #'s 2,3 and 4 have the most merit (my in-laws wouldn't really like me digging a pit and lighting a fire in their backyard), which method sound best for producing a hard surface that would last throgh serious pounding without cracking?
   Mad Scientist - Tuesday, 04/09/02 18:12:42 GMT

Truly a thousand thanks, point taken. Exellent answers. Some day i stop asking stupid questions.

   Marko Lehto - Tuesday, 04/09/02 19:09:52 GMT

Mad Scientist and the ASO: Cast iron does not case harden. Cast iron does not weld (for most practical purposes). You cannot hard face cast iron. Option 2 bolting on a piece of tool steel has the most merit but is still a chalanging and expensive job.

The piece of annealed tool steel at least 3/4" thick will first have to be machined and the holes drilled and counter sunk. I'd recommend at least eight 3/8-16 NC SHFH (socket head flat head) screws. Then it will need to be hardened and tempered. Then ground flat if there is any warpage. I'm assuming the the ASO is flat in precision terms. If not, it will need to be machined flat.

Ah. . . don't forget to machine a square hardy hole in the tool steel plate and drill a pritchel hole to match those in the ASO. I know how to do it. . . do you?

Then the ASO will need to drilled and taped. I'd recommend spot drilling to the clearance hole diameter to align the drill and start the hole then tap drill all the while keeping the piece clamped in place to the ASO.

On assembly apply Loc-Tite press fit compound to the screws and the face of the anvil then torque the screws to their recommended torque. SHFH screws are high strength hardened steel screws. Be sure the countersinks recess the heads. They are hard screws but hammering on the heads will distort the heads and loosen the bolts.

When you are done you will have a POS ASO with a hard face that cost you more than a good used anvil. Don't think so? Price out a piece of annealed tool steel 3/4" to 1" thick big enough to cover your ASO. . . Whoops. . . you are already over budget.

   - guru - Tuesday, 04/09/02 20:06:05 GMT

If i want to get a job as an apprentice at a forge somewhere around USA, where should i start looking? Work ads, for example (www-addresses?) I come from finland, but i think the trip is not a problem.
   Marko Lehto - Tuesday, 04/09/02 20:45:46 GMT

ROTFLMAO!!! Reasonable answer.. Definitely explains why I haven't found any info on case hardening cast iron!

I've never had a problem with welding the stuff.. (Guess I should have mentioned arc-welding it.) I had a Farmall C about 10 yrs ago that I split a wheel weight. Lotsa grinding along the joint and 200amp later, back together.. Not really good as new, but it kept together. Some welding supply mfg's have at least one hardfacing electrode for cast iron. I was wondering if it would last. Have you heard of anyone who's ever done it? Care for me to try? I'd be a willing gunea pig..

Going for the tool steel, since I really have no budget, I think I'm in the clear. :-)McMaster has a pice 3"x1.5' for roughly $65 assuming 10% over the $1.20/sq inch of 3/4 toolsteel, I'm looking at roughly - about $35 for a 4x8.75" piece, about half of what I was willing to spend on renting a mongo welder.

Matching the pritchel hole will be tough, the ASO don't have one! As for the hardy, I may be a tech gawd, but my practical metal skills (it sure ain't woodworking) are about a year old... But I did grow up the son of a machinist. Does that count? :-)

As for buying a cast iron ASO, I agree with you. I can't in any way endorse doing so, unless your door is really heavy and likes to close. Fortunatly (or unfortunatly if you want to be pessimistic), this was a gift. If I was actually planning on using this much, I definitely would be looking for something used. For the time being though, 2 weekends a month at a high point, I think this should suffice, even if I have to put up with the dents..
   Mad Scientist - Tuesday, 04/09/02 21:04:04 GMT

Wisdom: I was over 40 years old before I knew that a "free market" did not mean that individuals had the right to do business and set prices as they thought best. In America we equate a "free market" with freedom to do business. However, in glodal markets a "free market" means giving huge banks and multinational businesses the right to do anything they want at any cost.

It means American tobacco companies can dump cigaretts at dirt cheap prices on countries like Cambodia and when the government there trys to stymie the practice as a national health issue our government threatens economic sanctions. . . Yes WE did that.

It means when Indoneasia closes their banking and markets to the world financial enterprises at large, who were raiding Indoneasia's economy and causing rampant inflation and the devaluation of their currancy, that WE call there leader that had the balls to do it "anti free trade" as if it were a dirty word. Yes, the world (primarliy British and American banks) did that.

The "World Bank" is thought by many to be a big benign internationaly run institution. It is NOT. It is a tightly controlled privately held enterprise that makes high interest loans to countries that cannot afford it. The result is that the World Bank sucks up all the GNP of small countries so that they can never improve themselves.

The "free marketeers" and large multinational companies based primarily in the West are the reason that so many people hate the U.S. It is also why the 9/11 terrorists were not poor and uneducated. It is only the well educated that understand the forces of the free market that *WE*, our government and big corporations have at their disposal.

The U.S. congress and everyone in the financial industry act like the Enron affair was a big shock. The big shock to them is that their dirty secret was out in the open. Years ago a CPA that had worked for one of the "Big Five" told me that they made the books say anything the client wanted. Profits, losses, when to pay dividends on stocks. All controlled and manipulated.

I knew this had to be true from my experiances in the oil business in the 1970's. During the phoney oil shortage supposedly caused by the 1974 Oil Embargo price gouging was illegal and the govenrment supposedly was going to fine anyone caught. The problem was that the big oil companies did it anyway but the government could not prove it by the books. . . so it was only little guys that would get caught. It was then that I realized that big corps could do anything they wanted. Not even the U.S. government could figure out their books and what they were REALLY doing. . .

To attack the free market has been made to sound unpatriotic or worse, "communism". But it is currently one of the ultimate evils and cause of pain and suffering world wide. We always get mired down in petty issues during national elections but this is the kind of thing that is of ultimate importance.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/09/02 21:06:34 GMT

Heavy handed pen -er keyboard, but well stated.

Let me play devil's advocate here.. How do we take greed out of the equasion? Communism doesn't work because of the human element. People are still greedy. I know I am to some extent. I'd love to win the lottery and just have time to play with casting, smything, and boatbuilding without the worries of rent or a mortgage..

Time was that a Craftsman had a reputation to uphold. After an apprenticeship, he was allowed to call himself a Craftsman. A Craftsman CARED about his work and how the job was done. I can't say that I've seen many in the IT business. Oh there are a few, here and there, in every profession actually, but for the most part, it's just a brand now. The whole idea has gone off to the weekly check, doing just the job and nothing more, and letting it become SEP. All in the interests of higher profits.

I'm glad my father was a machinist. Without that background, I wouldn't be able to have the job I have with one of the bigger multi-national companies. I CARE about the job I'm doing, and take the responsibility of how it's done. That's how I got here. I'm not the kind of person to sue a company because I flashburned my eyes and think that the disclaimer should be in red on the welder. And, I'm not a Craftsman yet, but I'm definitly a senior apprentice, with years of work ahead of himself.

End rant.

   Mad Scientist - Tuesday, 04/09/02 21:43:57 GMT

AND I wouldn't have gotten stuck with a Cast Iron POS!

'nuff said.
   Mad Scientist - Tuesday, 04/09/02 21:50:13 GMT

guru, just curious to the level of hazard that spent coal and ash is to the environment. Can you just throw it into the woods or do you need to barrel the stuff and have it taken care of. It doesnt seem like theres a whole lot of hype about it being bad but with my new shop on my property with nieghboors I just want to be a good boy about it. thanks-Scott
   wolfsmithy - Tuesday, 04/09/02 22:21:47 GMT

Wolf, As in many things the amount of something often makes a difference in whether or not its "hazardous" waste. Half a century ago most clinkers and coal ash from domestic furnaces went on the driveway. Big houses put the "ash cans" out for the garbage collector and it went to a land fill. The dirt in most older Eastern U.S. cities is more coal ash than soil.

Most smiths pave paths and fill holes in gravel driveways with their clinkers. Many end up with them mixed into the floor of their shop. I used mine on the driveway when it was covered with snow to help it melt.

Now if you ASK about what is in coal ash. . . well, you don't want to ask. Spread them out, don't make a big pile, send them to the landfill in your garbage in small quantities.

If you ASK and worry or notify folks about it, then even though it is too small an amount to matter it could become a political problem. The residue from your wife's nail polish and laundry bleach are much more hazardous wastes and we load landfills with them.

Remember, "Don't ask, don't tell", is our government's official policy.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 01:02:30 GMT

Thanks guru, I'll be a good about it anyway. Scott
   wolfsmithy - Wednesday, 04/10/02 01:07:29 GMT

Looking for plans on how to build an air hammer for medium size blacksmith shop
   Yvain McDaniel - Wednesday, 04/10/02 01:17:26 GMT

Free Market: The opposite of a free market is not communisim. It is mearly a regulated market. In a Republic, it is the duty of the government to protect markets to the benefit of the citizens. Import duties, production limits and sometimes methods to stabilize prices are part of a regulated market.

In the U.S. we do SOME of those things and bitch and complain anytime anyone else does. The problem IS that we have no long term policies. 30 years ago we should have protected our steel industry. It is a big issue now that it is almost too late (or IS too late). We let exports of coal and scrap iron and imports of cheap steel wreck our domestic market. Not having a healthy steel industry is a bad thing for an industrial nation of our size. But we gave it up for "free trade".

Our steel industry was what what it was in the 50's and 60's because of the investments made during WWII. Then in the 70's we pressured the industry to clean up or replace those plants built with cheap government money. In the late 70's and the 80's we let Japan, Korea and Eastern Europe dump cheap steel on our markets. "It was good for the consumer". Then is the late 1980's and 1990's we let corporate raiders buy industries to dismantle them because of the phoney stock market valuations of many industries. This forced industries that wanted to stay in business to buy back their own stock that was sold to raise capital in the first place, thus reducing their operating capital. . .

All bad moves that should not have happened if we cared about our long term industrial health. But it made the free traders rich. Imagine what the corporate raiders and money market manipulators do to relatively defenseless developing nations. . .

   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 01:24:43 GMT

Yvain, You need two things. You need the ABANA Ron Kinyon, "Simple Air Hammer Plans" and the Mark Linn Air Hammer Video (see our review page).
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 01:29:44 GMT

I dont see much talk about rebar as a material used for blacksmithing. What are the advantages and disadvantages to using it? I'm just an amatuer smith and that's mostly all I've worked with. So far I've made a fire poker, lantern holder and several other small things from it and I'm currently working on a bladed tool of somekind. Where could I find better metal and how much would it cost?

Also, a better blower than my small fan and pool-float-pumper-upper bellows would be great.
   - Kuldanis the Flamemaul - Wednesday, 04/10/02 01:44:24 GMT

I'm given to the same sort of tomfoolery...spend $300 of time and materials to save $40 and end up with something rinky-dink...I keep suckering for it..sigh...that said..
Preheat the ASO to about 400 degrees and coat the face with nickel rod followed by a good layer of 7018 or 8016 followed by a layer of a good tough hardfaceing. Peen hot between layers...postheat to 400 and cool very slowly...then grind for days and days to get it flat enough to use. Might actually work, after a fashion.
Rebar is funky stuff to forge...the content is highly variable...to some degree you can choose it by strength rating but it will feature hard spots and unpredictable alloys as it is rude scrap rudely remelted.
Car spring will generally fake it for tool steel. Most structural steel is A36 which forges passably and is the most common stuff around. Generally, you want the lowest alloy and carbon content for decorative forging. Mild steel is what you are looking for.Rebar is third choice.
Carry a little file to your local scrap pile and start testing pieces that look interesting..you want soft steel that the file bites easily. Don't use your teeth for this because much old steel is coated with lead based paints.
RE the Guru Rant; If only we could keep money from buying votes and politicians, we might be able to tame the multinationals. Campaign finance reform was a good baby step.
   - Pete F - Wednesday, 04/10/02 06:27:27 GMT

Thanks. I had heard preheat to 900, do-able but I thought that was a bit high.. 400 should be much easier.

I hear ya on the $300 in time.. Fortunatly for me, this is something taking time away from work. My wife is happy about it as I seem to have some sort of a personality back.

I'll give it a try and let you know the results. Either I still have a doorstop, or I have something almost usable.
   Mad Scientist - Wednesday, 04/10/02 13:05:50 GMT

Kuldy; run of the mill re-bar is just that; whatever was in the load of scrap that was melted with minimal quality control. There are better grades of re-bar---else I'd never knowingly cross a bridge or live downstream from a dam! The question is why use it? Two good answers: free and you are using the pattern on it as a decorative accent.

Now as I mention several times a week; my local ornamental iron fab shop lets me scrounge their scrap bin as they have to pay to have it hauled off (see state of US steel rant) This gets me literally tons of nice unpainted *new* sq and round stock as well as sq and rnd tubing for fixtures. I always ask first, try to go during lunch so I don't interupt paying work for them and leave the bin (a 40 yard construction dumpster) cleaner, better stacked than when I get there. Sometimes I get sheet metal even the rare piece of real wrought iron when they are replacing a damaged section, (also BSB and strapping for pattern welded pieces)

All free--why some folk want to pay good money for things they can get for free always perplexed me. (Now in a production shop the need for specific lengths and having it show up exactly when it's needed is of course obvious; but nothing beats a good scrap pile for a hobby smith!)

For a bladed tool I would go with leaf or coal springs; found a lot around where people illegally dump stuff around these parts...

I generally can find the stuff a lot faster than I get to play with it, so I share my scrap pile with the MOB just to have enough room to get into the shop!

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 04/10/02 13:23:27 GMT

RE-BAR From our FAQ's page.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 15:14:08 GMT

Dolores, There is a tiny bit about Jose Ojeda of Sayula: www.mexconnect.com/mex_/travel/blue/blue25.html.
   Frank Turley - Wednesday, 04/10/02 15:32:39 GMT

I am a beginning smith that has made a total of 3 sets of tongs two chisels and two punches. I inherited my forge, bellows, vise, anvil and some tongs but i wanted some practice making some of my own tools. the tongs work fairly well but i am having trouble getting the temper right on the tools. does anyone know where I can get a list/chart of tempering colors. Also would like to know about making a hot cut hardie. I also have access to a acetalene torch and an arc welder.
   Daniel - Wednesday, 04/10/02 15:38:59 GMT

Refacing ASO: Don't forget to add the surge in your electric bill to the cost and NI-Rod was $1/stick the last time I bought it years ago. You may need a hundred or more. Hey, and once you start, you can't quit! Then there are the numerous grinding wheels you are going to wear out. . . You don't even need to add $1/hour for your time and you can still buy a good used anvil. IF you credit yourself at being worth minimum wage then you could buy a nice small NEW Peddinghaus!

I've used NI-Rod on several occasions and gotten mixed results. The problem is that MANY castings that we think are CI are Ductile Iron. Ductile is weldable. So is CI but it is much more difficult to get good results AND requires that pricey NI-Rod. Then there are the varieties of CI, grey iron, white, chilled. . . No telling what ASO's are made of and I'm sure that it varies.

On the other hand a friend of mine welds CI castings using a cutting torch. . . Gets pretty good results on small castings but the process usualy brings the entire part up to a nice red (well over 1,000 degrees F). So much for a little preheat. . .

The same friend used to have swage blocks cast at a little foundry from "left over metal". . . Foam and dross mostly. Some of the worst castings I have ever seen. Each casting had every possible casting defect including something that looked like metal mushrooms growing in the bowls. . . I faced one on a shaper and drilled a punching hole in it. HARD iron! Almost impossible to machine. Great swage block stuff if you could get past the ah, extra "features".

That foam metal that LOOKED like solid CI dissapeared in front of a NI-Rod arc like styofoam in front of a hot poker. . . Still takes a beating. . . Yep, fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.

If you are going to spend you time and money hardfacing something find a piece of heavy plate (4" or so) and work on that. At least you won't need to start with NI-Rod.

Over the centuries many anvils would not qualify as what we call "anvil shaped". Big square or rectangular blocks were common and are still used in some fields and in other countries.

I'm sure the makers and importers of ASO's are laughing all the way to the bank saying. . . Dumb Yankees will buy ANYTHING even if its NO GOOD! Ha, Ha, ha. . . .

They get away with it because we have this ASO obsession. Maybe its the phalic imagery of that big Rhinoceros horn.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 15:57:58 GMT

Temper Colors: From our FAQs page.

A hot cut hardy is just a slimmer version of a regular hardy. Most folks use the same hardy hot and cold but slim hot cuts should not be used cold. They are best made of an alloy tool steel as these hold their temper better when used hot. S-7 is popular for hot work tools. H-13 and 27 work but are a bear to forge.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 16:10:44 GMT

it might be helpfull to know what material you started with in order to determine heat-treat requirements.
Unless it was store-bought(known material with known heat-treat specs) you would have to do several trials to determine treatments.
Also what kind of chisels? Wood working, hot or cold chisels.....

   Ralph - Wednesday, 04/10/02 16:26:36 GMT

Regarding Free Trade discussion.....

Holy cow. We are on some watch lists now! Grin. Well said, Jock! Iíll add that the US corporate business group is not the only evil. We ARE very good at training the MBAís and accountants and lawyers who manipulate reality. But..... as an example, the Chinese government is basically selling their peoples cheap labor to us and the Europeans. And the Europeans have been there much longer. Especially Germans and the British. You want to get into China? The price is ďxĒ for the entry fee. Been there, seen that. Donít wanna read the book!

Donít expect any relief from the government. Government exists to serve itself and business, not the common man. The founding fathers did the founding so they could MAKE MORE MONEY! Not pay as much tax to the British who were in charge of making the money at the time. Religious persecution? Please donít insult me.

At least they did write in some rights for us. But those are always being nibbled away.

Human nature, folks. Sure, some of it is the desire for freedom. We all want that. But greed is very strong. Like Pete said, we need to stop the influence of money on politics. Good luck to us all with that one. There is a huge history base that says the common man wonít get off his butt and make it happen. We elect and reelect people with demonstrated lack of integrity in every election. WE allow it to happen. We believe what we are told and follow the (any) leader like lemmings. Itís EASIER. We are fat and happy. The politicians count on that apathy. We donít know the hunger the rest of the world has. We are beginning to see the hatred.

How many of you have sent your views and expectations to all of your political representatives? We are supposed to be the bosses you know. They are representatives, not the boss. Act like a boss. With respectful authority.

Increased communication will help keep things in check by bringing the bad actions in the open, but we still have to make the right stuff happen or the bad elements of human nature will take their opportunities.

Do we really want international free trade? That would mean labor rates would average out around, Iím guessing, $5 per hour? Skilled and unskilled. How much tax money would this country have then? Where would all the services many want come from? The sad fact is that we are not prepared to compete globally and we are not getting prepared. The international business man gets richer and the labor in this country just goes to work every day, thinking the job will always be there, demanding the big money for unskilled labor, and spends the money on material goods instead of preparing itself for the jobs that will exist in this country. The sham can only last so long anyway. Itís entropy. Everything evens out until there is an upheaval. And even what we see as an upheaval (war) is really an evening out.

Have a nice day? Lets talk smithing and metal work instead. Itís Easier to think about after all.....

Wolfsmithy, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and send the coal ash to a landfill with your trash. Mix it in with potting soil if you have to. Landfills are the currently most common safest place for it. Until we get smart and burn it in nuclear reactors or other high temp processes. There will be a time when property purchasers will test the dirty looking soil around your house before they will buy it. I know I would. Once someone finds mercury and lead etc. in your soil, it will be costing you money. Lots of money. Because there is a whole business community (that lobbies for laws to help it make money) that wants to clean up your trash. And take your money to do it. And you wonít have a choice in the matter. It wonít work to tell them that the coal with itís mercury, lead, arsenic, etc came from the ground, you just burned it and put it back there in a different spot.
   Tony - Wednesday, 04/10/02 16:30:59 GMT

so far i mainly have only been able to use scrap metal i have found in junkyards and scrap piles most of what i use i am not sure what it is or was. the color chart on the faqs page is ok i suppose but i don't know what temperatures to heat for what. i was trying to make a cold chisel.
   Daniel - Wednesday, 04/10/02 16:39:43 GMT

Danial; the trick is that the temperatures are *different* depending on what the alloy of steel you are using so you need to test your stuff to get an idea on what you've got.

Basic testing is to hit it on a grinder and look at the spark---charts in most welding books and smithing books; try heating a piece to non-magnetic and quenching it in oil then checking with a file, too hard temper it to different temps and check again. Too soft try re-heating and quenching in water, test, too soft--quench in brine, too soft--superquench, or don't use it for a cutting tool!

Tony; I'm currently reading Thomas Jefferson's letters and much of what he is debating is *NOT* pro-business he is much more concerned with the rights of the people rather than business or government. I can't speak as to the other "founding fathers" but there is at least one case where you're wrong. (He's also considering that each new generation should re-write the constitution to fit *their* times! as things change...)

   - Thomas Powers - Wednesday, 04/10/02 17:09:40 GMT

Temper Chart: Daniel, The place to go for what you want is the references cited on the temper chart. MACHINERY'S HANDBOOK is a must have reference (see our review page) and the NEW Edge of the Anvil has the type of list you are looking for with the colors (in words only) and item types listed.

The problem is that most modern steels are alloy steels and temper temperature ranges are different AND the colors do not apply exactly as the alloying ingrediants change the colors. See our Heat Treating FAQ.
   - guru - Wednesday, 04/10/02 18:41:46 GMT

Thomas, I will post a response on the hammer in since that's where I think Jock would want that to be.
   Tony - Wednesday, 04/10/02 19:13:11 GMT

Jock & Tony,

The Constitution of the United States has been increasingly irrelevant ever since Lincoln discovered that if he sold it with the right rhetoric, he could do anything he wanted, constitutional or not.

From Lincoln on every president we are taught was "Great" in school expanded the powers of the government - usually unconstitutionally. Lincoln, Wilson, both Roosevelts, Truman, and Kennedy all expanded the power of the Federal government with questionable constitutional authority - or did it anyway despite being completely contrary to the constitution.
   John Lowther - Wednesday, 04/10/02 19:21:16 GMT

Hi, I am very interested in learning to become a blacksmith, I'm 17 and I live in Montreal(Canada). I was wondering if you know any one or any organisations in or around the island that would teach me, i would greatly appreciate the help.
On another note, i have just started making chainmail and i have trouble getting the rings to stay round when i close them, got any advice?
   Patrick - Wednesday, 04/10/02 21:26:45 GMT

I hard faced my first ASO didn't realy help all that much it is still a ASO only it took 18hours to weld preheat and anouther 12 to grind the rod cost over $180 (I got it for nothing) all told I could have found a used one for 300 and been ahead (in fact that is what I did)
I did about the same thing as pete (with about the same result)
   MP - Wednesday, 04/10/02 21:50:38 GMT

I was wondering if anyone has information about the Parker Vise company or thier bench vises? I have one that has 272 cast on it as well as PARKER and was wondering how old it is, etc.

I also have a leg vise that resembles a Trenton Vise from an add that I saw in the Anvils in America book, I can'f find any markings on it. How are these identified? Is a vise like this likely tio have been used for non- blacksmithing chores?

Thanks for any info

   Thomas - Wednesday, 04/10/02 22:51:52 GMT

VISES: Tom, The 1899 Carey Bros. Catalog has:
  • Prentiss Patent Adjustable Jaw
  • Prentiss Bull Dog (I've got two)
  • Prentiss New Shepard
  • Prentiss Combination Pipe
  • Parker Patent Parallel (#000, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • Parker Patent Combination Pipe (#87,88,288½, 289½)
  • Massey's (light duty)
  • Massey's Perfect rapid. . (wood working)
  • Massey's Lightening Grip Wood Workers
  • Massey's Planner, Shaper & Mill Vise
  • "Improved Wrought Steel Solid Box" blacksmith vise.

The 1928 Carey Bros. Catalog has:
  • Reed Machinists vises (I think Reed & Prentiss were same Co.)
  • Reed Coachmakers
  • Columbian Garage Vises
  • 123½ Parker's Oriole Vises (3½" light duty, painted orange and black)
  • Reed Combination Pipe Vises
  • Steel Leg Vises "Standard Type" (blacksmiths)
  • Others. . .
The 1955 Industrial Supply. Catalog (Richmond, VA) has:
  • Columbian Machinists, Series 600, 500
  • Columbian "Workshop" (medium duty)
  • Columbian Heavy Duty Chipping Vise (one size, 268#)
  • Columbian Combination Pipe Vises
  • Columbian Woodworker's Vises
  • Other milling and drill press vises. . .
The early Parker vises were all the standard HD pattern bench vise. The "Oriole" was a light duty. Without a lot of research it would be difficult to tell how old your Parker Vise is, they were in business at LEAST from 1899 to 1928. But a lot of businesses folded or were bought out after the crash or 1929. Columbian seems to have dominated the later market. Now imports dominate the U.S. market.

Very few blacksmith's leg or "solid box" vises were marked. Many were imported and many were made in the U.S. in exactly the same style. They were sold as a "standard". The exception is the double screw leg vises that were made for a short time. Blacksmiths leg vises are still made but not in the old style. Vaughn of England makes one that is close and Kayne and Son sell a European vise that has the same features but is styled much different than the old classic vises. At one time the form was so revered that my Prentiss bench vises have many of the same lines and details as the ancient "standard" English leg vise.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/11/02 01:11:26 GMT

Daniel, Uddeholm Steel Co.: www.uddeholm.com, formerly made available nice color charts. Also, I got a good one from Pacific Machinery and Tool Steel Co., 3445 N.W. Luzon St., Portland, OR 97210. I'm not sure if they are still available, but you can give it a try.
   Frank Turley - Thursday, 04/11/02 04:51:15 GMT

Vise Casting Number Thomas, I also forgot to mention that casting numbers ofting have nothing to do with the product identification. They are more commonly a way for the foundry to keep track of which parts go to the customer and when sets are required to be sure there are the same number of parts in each set. Sometimes manufacturers have the model number or code in the casting number but this is an exception rather than the rule.
   - guru - Thursday, 04/11/02 15:17:33 GMT

A coal train just wrecked up the road. Is the coal headed for the power plants good for blacksmithing?
   John - Friday, 04/12/02 00:35:38 GMT

We have had a coal train wreck near here. Is the power plant coal worth having. I am looking at a life time supply.
   John - Friday, 04/12/02 00:42:40 GMT

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Depends on the plant and its requirements. As always, the only way to tell is to test it.
   - guru - Friday, 04/12/02 03:58:29 GMT


I have experience of making a "Wisby harnesk" and would now try take on the challange of more difficult design as a 1500th centuary brigandine.

I would therfore be extremly happy if there is anyone who would assit me in finding a pattern for a 1500th centuary brigandine.

I have already made a pattern for a 1500th centuary brigandine, but I need something to compare with, since my design is based upon the 1500th centuary brigandine found in Leeds armoury, and I didn't have the oppurtunity touch and feel the object.

I am also on the look out for 1500th centuary brigandine rivits, ie. sharp ended with a very broad scull, about 3mm wide and 20mm long.

Kind Regards
   Todd - Friday, 04/12/02 08:47:14 GMT

Another lathe question. What are the advantages/disadvantages between a lathe and a lathe/milling machine combination? It seems like I read some criticism of lathe/mills somewhere but I can't recall if there were specific faults cited or if it was just someone being cranky due to a lack of coffee.
   - Khym - Friday, 04/12/02 19:18:16 GMT

In the charcoal recipes that I've seen, they call for green wood. Why? Will dry lumber (from tear-outs of old houses) just burn up when I try to make it? I'm going to use the barrel method.
   Rodriguez - Friday, 04/12/02 20:02:48 GMT

Rodriguez, You can use dry wood. It catches of fire easily, however. If I were doing it, I would be tempted to put pivoting covers over the draft holes near the bottom, similar to a riveted door lock cover. If the stack looks like it wants to catch fire, close down the covers fully or partially on the windward side. The stack should char, not flame.
   Frank Turley - Friday, 04/12/02 21:23:26 GMT

I am having a difficult time cutting 1/8Ē angle iron (mild steel). I need to make a cut 15Ē long at one end of the iron, on center where the two sides bend to form the angle. I will be scrolling the cut sections down after I split the iron.
I have tried cutting the steel with a chisel/anvil (makes ugly uneven cut), a grinder removes too much steel, a (woodcutting) bandsaw causes too much drift. The only straight cut I have made has been with a hack saw...but it will take many hours to do the 12 or so pieces I have to cut. I have not yet tried a torch. I am very much a beginner to this craft and would greatly appreciate any advice.
   Michael Mauer - Friday, 04/12/02 21:23:30 GMT

Gotcha. Thanks Frank.
   Rodriguez - Friday, 04/12/02 22:01:20 GMT

M.Maurer: Huh? Why does the cut have to be so straight if you are going to heat it and beat it anyway? Why do you consider that the grinder removes to much metal? Why do you have to start out with angle iron instead of welding two bars? And if the job truly requires "many" hours, so what?
Whoops, didnīt mean this to seem unfriendly. I just canīt really see the problem.
   - Olle Andersson - Friday, 04/12/02 22:26:45 GMT

Guru: proof of what you keep saying about paint jobs


if you can make that look real...
   Mark Parkinson - Friday, 04/12/02 22:36:49 GMT

M.Mauer, I'm with Olle. Weld two pieces of flat bar to the angle.

Splitting with a proper bandsaw and a guide should produce dead straight cuts. Bandsaw tooling is dead easy to make using the band saw itself. A wooden V-block 5-6" long with a split (saw cut) about half way will guide the work perfectly. Attach it to a longer board (also with a split) and clamp to the table. If it takes you longer than half hour including time to glue the two parts together and align on the saw you are in the wrong business. . .

The wooden fixture will make hundreds of parts without wearing out.

Note that for 1/8" material you will need fairly fine teeth. No less than 14 TPI. 16 TPI would be best or a 14-16 variable pitch blade.
   - guru - Friday, 04/12/02 23:21:43 GMT

Lathe Mills: All the ones I've seen were junkier than junk. The problem IS that a lathe carriage is not stiff in the right directions for milling and if you make it so then the feeds will not be suitable for turning.

They are toys for making things of wood, plastic and free machining alloy aluminium. In other words, a model makers tool, as long as you make SMALL models.

"Mill Drills" Same problem. The frame and spindle of a drill press are not stiff enough for milling. The milling tables added to a standard drill press DO NOT make it a milling machine. They also have such limited capacity that they are only good for indexing on relatively small parts. AND the drill press table has no lateral stiffness. An absolute requirement for milling.

You can make a slot in steel by drilling two holes and sawing and filing the material from inbetween with less aggravation than with the machines above.

The result of a machine not being stiff enough for milling is rapidly chipped and broken end mills. These are expensive cutters and expensive to have sharpened. You don't have to go through many in order to afford a REAL machine tool. . .
   - guru - Friday, 04/12/02 23:44:09 GMT

Faux ACME anvil: Great piece! I put in a bid but I doubt it will make the reserve. The problem IS it not the right style to be Wiley Coyote's favorite "brand". Wiley's anvils have great cartoon STYLE.

Well. . that bid didn't last long. And there is a week to go!

Anyone what to bet that it sells for more than a nice new 150# Peddinghaus????
   - guru - Friday, 04/12/02 23:52:00 GMT

I frequently have to get things into and out of my pick up that are too heavy for me to move alone. I want to build an inverted 'U' type frame with a chain fall hoist. I imagine 1000 lbs would be about the heaviest thing I'd try to lift. If the span is 8 ft and the uprights about 10 ft tall, what size I-beam or square tube would be safe. I don't want to overbuild too much and end up with the capability to lift a battleship. Can anyone give me some ideas.... Thanks
   stan - Saturday, 04/13/02 02:20:36 GMT


Try over at the Armour Archive (www.armourarchive.org). The The armor from Visby is frequently discussed over there.

Good luck.

Back from Tucson and observing some welcome moisture on the banks of the lower Potomac.

Visit your National Parks: www.nps.gov

Go viking: www.wam.umd.edu/~eowyn/Longship/
   Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 04/13/02 02:57:07 GMT


I've been getting quite a few questions about the book lately, so here's an update.

My publisher's husband was diagnosed with three brain tumors, metastized from un-diagnosed lung cancer. He's a level 4 cancer patient. Last monday he was in the hospital for his last chemo treatment. Had a seizure and they lost him for a bit. Got him back. Yesterday he got out of bed for the first time since monday. Long enough to eat dinner and go back to bed.

I told Tracy (the publisher, and a darn good friend) to forget about the da** book and take care of her husband. It'll be out this year sometime, but I have no idea when.

Nor do I plan on worrying about it or pushing Tracy.

When it does come out, there will be an announcement made.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Saturday, 04/13/02 03:29:40 GMT

Hoist: Stan, This or similar problems come up quite often (as it did the past two weeks) and the answer is almost always the same.

1) The problem is not sufficiently defined.

2) When safety is an issue the problem should be taken to a licensed Profesional Engineer who will normally charge for his services.

1,000 pounds sounds like a lot but I have a dozen machines in my shop weighing much 800 to 2,000 pounds that all were delivered in my 3/4 ton Dodge pickup, sometimes more than one at a time. My welding bench weighs some 1,800 pounds. . .

I have a 20,000 pound crane scale and take every oportunity to weigh things when they are moved. The weight of some things will shock you, like my 3' x 6' welding bench.

When designing lifting frames the first thing to ask is how is the applied load going to be limited. If you are using a 1 ton hoist or come-along the frame needs to be rated for that load plus a safety factor. On most lifting devices the safety factor if 5x.

Why so much? First the lifting device will easily lift 1-1/2 times it rating. 2x if you really pull hard and force it. . Second is shocks. When something slips, or shifts and then catches it puts a inertia load on the rigging much greater than the dead load.

Crane beams are limited by deflection. The general rule of thumb is 1/4" max. This also limits stress to where that 5x factor usualy is covered. But it depends on the situation.

Deflection increases by the CUBE of the increase in span. A few feet can make a big difference. Simple beams are straight, and simply supported on pins. Fix the end rigidly and stress goes way up. Bend one into your "U" shape and its a arch and everything changes. . .

For your application the smallest beam you can find (normally 6") will easily handle the load with an 8 foot span. But you should get the specific beam checked out.

See archive dates:
guru - 03/29/02 23:42:23 GMT
Tony - 04/02/02 14:35:33 GMT

Going to the CVBG meet at Tom Boon's tommarow (Sat). Time for a break!
   - guru - Saturday, 04/13/02 05:53:37 GMT

Yer a man of some grace and considerable style Sir.
Mike M.
To use your bandsaw,
1. slow it down a lot (Usually done by using a smaller pulley on the motor).
2. get a metal cutting blade with small teeth and cut with cutting oil.
3. Build a guide and align your blade .
OR, to chisel cut...1...cut hot..it is way quicker and easier, keep quenching the tool edge to keep it cool, use a sacrifice plate to protect your anvil face.
2. Use a "rocking chisel" with the corners ground away and a crown in the center of the blade so the corners of the tool dont chew up the work. Rock and slide the chisel along the cut as you go.
3.Chisel the scribed cut line lightly and accurately on the first pass. Thereafter you will be able to feel the groove , man.
4 To use a torch, get a sheetmetal cutting tip or use a regular tip and lay it down sideways using a small cutting oraface and higher pressure.
5. Grinder; get a "slitting disk" and be really careful.
6. Hacksaw; The trick is to use sharp blade, some lubricant, and clamp the work firmly right next to the cut.
7. It really will be a lot easier to forge out your scrolls from strip stock and weld it up later.
What all this is to say...spend more time and master your tools and it will all go faster...theoretically anyway.
   Pete F - Saturday, 04/13/02 06:06:32 GMT

Yer a man of some grace and considerable style Sir.
Hard to be in a big hurry publishing a historical novel anyway i guess.
   Pete F - Saturday, 04/13/02 06:09:22 GMT

Mike, sorry the numbering ran amuck.
   Pete F - Saturday, 04/13/02 06:12:19 GMT

must've been an irrational number!
   adam - Saturday, 04/13/02 06:37:03 GMT

I have been looking through your great site for information on the proper ratios for a power hammer using a spring-loaded knuckle. If I have missed it please accept my apologies. Is there a set of formulas that will take into consideration the intended strokes per minute, the stroke, the weight of the tup, and maybe even the length of the support arms? In other words how do I balance all the factors of a power hammer on paper before doing it in the real world? I know that nothing man made is perfect but I would like to eliminate as many problems as possible before I start welding.
I am a Journeyman Tool and Die Maker; I have my own small backyard machine shop for my own enjoyment and sanity. I am working as a cnc programmer in the toolshop of a large forging operation in East Tennessee.
Any advise about this would be of a great help.
Thank you for a great site for the the modern day tinker.
   Terry Miles - Saturday, 04/13/02 08:27:40 GMT

Hi Guru. My name is Jay. I have been interested in becoming a sword maker for years since i was a boy. I want to get started on Blacksmithing but I dont know where to start what should I do?
   Jay Lawrence - Saturday, 04/13/02 12:41:40 GMT

Jay go to the 'Getting Started" page here on anvilfire. Then browse the archives. Those are good start points. Then ask questions after reading the get started stuff
   Ralph - Saturday, 04/13/02 13:34:39 GMT

Hammer Specs Terry, Since these machines are VERY dynamic the calculations are very complicated.

On our Power hammer Page we have the specs for Little Giants. And at Fairbanks.forginghammers.com there is a spec chart for Fairbanks. These are both commecial hammers and the motors are designed for heavy duty use. Generaly you can use a little less HP.

   - guru - Saturday, 04/13/02 13:58:08 GMT

Just wanted to share a little bit of my success and thank those who helped to make it so.
I recently completed my first brake drum coal forge (I say recently because it has been a work in progress for some time now, the first run of it started over a year ago and has been improving since) and it works great!

It consists of a brake drum as a firepot, a tin can lid that happened to fit perfectly in the bottom with holes poked in it as a grate, it has a truck wheel rim as a base (so I can roll it around) and the drum is mounted to the rim with 3 foot sections of threaded rod. The 5 hole lug patttern on the drum matches the 5 hole pattern on the rim and the threaded rod makes a very good platform for mounting all kinds of other stuff.

If you need a shelf mounted or another gadget you simply unscrew the top and slide the shelf down the rod with a nut and washer and its secure! Then I scrounged a heater fan from an 89 Honda Accord and a 12 volt battery and I'm in business. The tuyeer for my forge was 2" emt (eletrical metallic tubing) so I had to find something to use as a reducer 4" to 2" to make the connection from the heater fan "blower" to the tuyeer without significant reduction in airflow. An aluminum oil funnel was the perfect sized cone over the right distance to make the fit. It has a doorbell button as a footswitch. I also have a 2" pvc ball valve that I might add to control air flow or I may add a reostat-type ceiling fan dimmer switch. An interesting note about the 12 volt heater fan. I first tried it out on a 12 volt battery charger at a friends garage. It has a 6 volt "trickle charge" and when attached at this setting it maked the motor run at half speed. I imagine that all a reostat does is reduce voltage so it stands to reason that half the voltage = half the speed.

Ok I know some of you are engineers so excuse me if this sounds terribly simple to some of you but I was tickled pink that it all fit together and worked!! The reason it is so perfect for me is that it all fits into the back of my truck and can be driven to and set up where neighbors won't complain about the noise and smoke.

Now anyone have any ideas on how to get a really big anvil into the back of a small truck with little to no back pain?

Also, anyone have any ideas on how to make a hood for this sucker? I was thinking of getting some stovepipe thats the same size as the drum and fitting it right on top with a mouse hole cut in the side to heat the stock. Smoke has no choice but to go right up and this would control the popping of flaming bits of coal as well.
   Tim - Saturday, 04/13/02 16:44:54 GMT

Jay, I'll ask a short question on the heavy anvil. How big is really big ? I have a 200#er that I pack around sometimes. I also might add that getting help to load stuff is really smart business, regardless of the time element. You may get help later for injuries to your body.
   - Steve O'Grady - Saturday, 04/13/02 19:26:49 GMT

OK, pays to read better. THat last post was for Tim. Sorry Jock
   - Steve O'Grady - Saturday, 04/13/02 19:28:05 GMT

Steve, this one is a biggun, it's at least 200lb. I need a way to load and unload it by myself. I can move it a few feet at a time by myself as long as it's at about waist lvl when I pick it up. That way I'm just moving it from whatever it's on over to my tailgate. The stump I have it on is the right height so essentially I can move it right from the truck bed to the stump but I was wondering about a hoist or ramp and pully system to get it into the bed of the truck in the even it falls over and I'm by myself. I can send you pics of it if you have an email addy I can send to. That should give you abetter idea of what I'm up against.
   Tim - Saturday, 04/13/02 19:37:43 GMT

Moving anvils: Remember that the anvil you carry from the truck in the morning with just a little sweat and strain might be breaking your back after a days forging.
   - Olle Andersson - Saturday, 04/13/02 20:20:28 GMT

Tim, Some horseshoers have a sliding rack with hinged or pivoted leg(s). You should be able to come up with something using angle iron and/or tubular steel. There is also a shoers' forum, where you can post questions: www.anvilmag.com/wwwboard/
   Frank Turley - Saturday, 04/13/02 22:27:40 GMT

Lifting anvil: You might consider blocking it into position. Tip up one end, stick a piece of board under it then tip up the other end and do the same. If you prepare enough blocks and take some care to keep the stack stable, you can lift a heavy wt up to almost any height. I use wide boards at the bottom and save the narrower blocks for the top. It's a bit slow, but it's faster than building a rig for just one occasion.
   adam - Saturday, 04/13/02 23:21:48 GMT

Hia. I'm writing on behalf of my husband. We live in Australia and he is a non verbal (blokey thing!) new blacksmither wanna be. We are desperately trying to find mild steel rods that are 1mm to 5mm in width and just keep hitting brick walls and can only find minimum of 6mm diameter. Can you help us find out where to get this stuff so we can just get on with our lives .. please!!!!! Thank you.
   MCC - Sunday, 04/14/02 00:16:15 GMT

I have read the demonstration in the iforge about making hammers and intend to make a smithing hammer similar to the one shown. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what type metal I should use and a clue to the size for a 1.5-2lb hammer. Also can the hole be square or does it have to oval?
   Daniel - Sunday, 04/14/02 01:31:48 GMT

Salutations from BC Canada.

A fellow earlier on asked a question regarding bandsaws,... I have a need to cut different patterns out of metals 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick and I was trying to figure out the best method. I had heard that some guys use bandsaws slowed down to about 30rpm. Would this be any good to cut out patterns such as profiles of wildlife such as bears, eagles, etc.. or would it tend to stray off the line too much?

If not good then what would be a good way to cut out patterns as such.

   Louis - Sunday, 04/14/02 02:51:01 GMT

An item like that I would cut with a plasma cutter. I am making a wallhanging of a treebranch with leaves and a small frog on it for my girlfriend since she likes frogs. I drew the leaves with welders soapstone on the sheet metal and then cut with the plasma cutter. It makes a relatively clean cut and the torch is light enough on some models to get some good detail. A little grinding and you have a good shape. Of course if you are making a lot of them you may want to hire it out to a fab shop with a CNC machine that can program the shape and pump them out. I saw a website once that sold blanks for a rose that came as a set of different shaped and sized petals. He cuts them and sells them and you shape the blank into a cup and add the next smaller size to the inside of the cup until you have filled it to make a nice rose. Bend them in or out to make the rose a bud or a full bloom. Depending on the size of the profile you may be able to use a hand acetelyn torch but thats a bit more unweildy and may yiled a rougher outline. i think the bandsaw is going to be tough since it may be hard to turn the plate you are cutting to make the saw blade follow the lines. The blade might bind as you are feeding the plate and turning it. I would say the plasma cutter is your best bet.
   Tim - Sunday, 04/14/02 04:28:58 GMT

Bandsaws: Louis, Metal cutting bandsaw blades generaly are too wide and do not have enough set in the blade to produce enough clearance for cutting tight curves.

The folks that do the type work you are looking at use either plasma torches for thin stock or computer guided torches for heavy plate. Welome to the 21st century.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/14/02 04:33:55 GMT

Small Bar in OZ: MCC, this is difficult almost anywhere. The range of sizes you are looking for are wire sizes not bar sizes except in very special applications. Then you must purchase in bulk. There are alternatives:

1mm = ~.039" This is MIG wire size
3mm = ~1/8" This is a welding rod OR soft wire size.
4mm = ~5/32" This is a heavy welding rod size
5mm = ~3/16" This is available in cold drawn bar from some larger steel distributors and as heavy welding rod.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/14/02 05:00:38 GMT

Hammer Material: Daniel, Smithing hammers are made of tool steel with 75 to 95 points carbon and tempered fairly hard. New material can be 1095 or S7. Scrap can be truck axels, torsion springs or very heavy coil springs.

The eye can be rectangular but should have heavily radiused corners. The advantage of an oval is using modern stock handles. But rectangular is fine for hand made.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/14/02 05:19:25 GMT

I'll trot out the proverbial old saw and say that, that work was traditionally done with chisels..
you know, with a hammer and a series of shaped cutting tools banging on steel...were blacksmiths , right?
   Pete F - Sunday, 04/14/02 05:44:01 GMT

Daniel, Japanese hand hammers have rectangular eyes.
   Frank Turley - Sunday, 04/14/02 12:29:37 GMT

About forge welding; info in anvilfire or elsewhere? (Basics)
   hman - Sunday, 04/14/02 21:11:05 GMT

hman, see our iForge demos on the subject.
   - guru - Sunday, 04/14/02 21:48:15 GMT

Yep, found it. Thank you.
   hman - Sunday, 04/14/02 21:56:06 GMT

Maybe i missed the answer, I haven't been on in a week or so, but any hints where I can pick up zinc powder paint? Also, when using the food grade mineral oil to treat steel used for food products should I put it on the steel when it is warm or cold? Thanks!!
   - Wendy - Monday, 04/15/02 00:20:44 GMT

Tim-- Harbor Freight sells a 1/2-ton jib crane that you can mount (and easily dismount for storage in the toolbox when not in use) in a corner of the aft end of your truck bed and lift whatever you want, including anvils, for about $100.
   miles undercut - Monday, 04/15/02 04:38:45 GMT

Wendy; There is a favorite method amongst those of us who like to play with fire that applies the oil smoking hot, a lot like seasoning a cast iron pan..repeated cycles increase the protection and it is obnoxious fuming fun.

Hello Miles, missed you and i'd welcome you back even if you are touting Harbor fright products. I know you to be otherwise honorable (G).
Tim; a good general blacksmithing exercize is to see if you can't sit down and solve the anvil levitation problem 6 different ways, then choose the funniest.
   Pete F - Monday, 04/15/02 05:04:08 GMT

Wendy, You had asked about zinc powder, not paint and I let it slide at the time.

Zinc powder or cold galvanizing paint is available from CRC in spray cans as "Zinc-It" (formerly 'Zinc Re-new') and from commercial technical paint supliers like Sherman-Williams and many automotive paint suppliers. You won't find it at Wal-Mart or Home and Garden stores. Industrialy zinc paint is used to paint the inside of water storage tanks, touch up galvanized surfaces after cutting or welding or to replace hot dip galvanizing.

CRC Industries Zinc-It listed under industrial products.
   - guru - Monday, 04/15/02 09:01:02 GMT

Jay; if you are interested in swordmaking "The Complete Bladesmith" by James Hrisoulas is a must to read: note it is easier to follow if you already have basic smithing skills!

My 515# anvil was lifted onto my truck with an engine hoist and was moved to the driveway with a 2 wheel dolly (rated at 600#---looked like it had caterpiller treads on the wheels)

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 04/15/02 14:47:02 GMT

Anvil Levitation: How about the "traditional" black powder method. Set the anvil down behind the tailgate with a small charge under the base. Light the fuse. Jump into the cab of the PU where the engine is already running. Slam it into reverse and as soon as you hear the powder go off, pop the clutch. Probably take few tries to get it just right. Do let us know how it works out for you.
   adam - Monday, 04/15/02 16:38:30 GMT

Lifting Anvils:

Mind over matter? Will it into the back of your truck?

A couple years ago I sold all my small 125 pound (57kg) anvils. This was a big mistake. If careful, most of us can safely pickup and move that size anvil. But 200 pounds (90kg) and up can be a problem (depending on your physical condition). In years past I moved my 200 pound anvil to a few demos by carefully lifting it the few inches off the stand onto the tailgate of my pickup truck and then back to the stand the same way. But this did not take into consideration the possibility of dropping the anvil to the ground. . . However, at the time I could lift that anvil from the ground if needed. I just avoided doing so. Today, I KNOW I would hurt myself in the attempt.

Most "portable" farrier's anvils are 100 to 125 pounds (~45 to 60kg). The majority of old London pattern anvils also fall in this same range. The reason is portability. SO, today, if I need to move an anvil I use the couple beat up antiques I have that are under 150 pounds.

In my shop I have an overhead hoist for handling heavy objects and machinery (good up to 5 tons). Anvils are moved from the floor or truck to stands with a chain hoist. Once set on the stand the anvil and stand can be "walked" into position. This includes 100 pound anvils up.

When I bought my 300# anvil it was fixed to a 100# stand making up 400# total. I can't remember how I loaded it but I am sure I had help and that we probably skidded it up a ramp. When I bought my first 100# anvil I picked it up and put on my shoulder and carried it to the car. . .

The last time I needed to get a heavy piece in the back of a pickup truck alone I used a ramp and a come-along. Slow but it works and it doesn't require a sky hook. However, now I have a "ton" truck with a flat bed about 4-1/2 feet off the ground. A great truck but a lousy height to lift heavy objects into. Standard pickups are much more convienient.

Years ago a friend of mine always insisted on taking his 350# anvil to demos. He had other nice portable anvils but insisted on the "big one". You really don't need that big of anvil to forge the little hooks, nails, laeves and things done at public demonstrations. He and a helper always managed to wrangle it out of a basement shop and into the trunk or back seat of a car. . . This prooved to me the connection between macho ego and the phalic symbolizm of having the "biggest anvil". . .

So, we do what do. But if you do demos I recommend a strong back and a small anvil. 200 pounds and UP are called "shop" anvils for a reason. 100-125 are "portable" anvils.

The little jib crane mentioned above is a good idea. I always wanted to build one into the back of my pickup truck. The flatbed REALLY needs one. I think Paw-Paw has a little jib crane in his truck with a little electric winch on it. . . Some of the engine hoists like Thomas mentions are inexpensive or can be found used. Scrap the base and mount it on one corner of your truck and you've got a pretty decent truck hoist.

The black powder method comes under "stupid blacksmith tricks". :) I can see the anvil shaped dent in the tail gate where the truck was prematurely backed up. . . Or the horn piercing the roof of the cab. . . Explain THAT to your wife! Hmmmmm maybe ABANA should have a new rule. . . no lifting anvils with . . .
   - guru - Monday, 04/15/02 18:35:13 GMT

I do indeed have a little jib crane in the back of my truck. The winch is a little 12 volt "helper" winch from Hearland of America. It's RATED at 6,000# rolling load. It MIGHT pick up 300# from the ground. But it's a single line winch, and goes through a 90į bend, which reduces it's capacity.
   Paw Paw Wilson - Monday, 04/15/02 20:00:42 GMT

Anvil envy is a terrible scourage amongst blacksmiths and many the smith has paid much too much for an anvil bigger than a friends that they don't really get their money's worth. OTOH when I can pick up a name brand anvil in mint condition for 66 cents a pound I will not spurn lady luck---even if most of my hammering gets done on a 93# "portable" cause most my smithing time's at demo's and recreation events...(for the Y1K stuff I use a simple cube of steel)

One of these days I will get to build the shop of my dreams; or give my kids a *DOORSTOP* to remember me by...

   - Thomas Powers - Monday, 04/15/02 21:37:15 GMT

I'm wondering if any smiths out there are concerned about products liability. Is it ever a problem. Odd things may happen, like pieces of flint getting in somebody's eyes when fire-striking, pot rack injuries, etc. As a sole proprietor, this could be a big deal. Thanks. I'll have a check in the mail shortly!
   - Kevin - Tuesday, 04/16/02 03:04:13 GMT

i sarted pounding anvils at age 10, 44 years later, i finally got a LG. power hammer.what are the proper ways to make a foundation for this tool? (is there some trick to keep my neighbors happy) thanks, mark
   mark finn - Tuesday, 04/16/02 08:53:16 GMT

Kevin, Product libility and general libility insurance is available for most manufacturers and some blacksmiths have it. Note that it is different from shop libility insurance.

The problem with product libility insurance is that many policies only cover you as long as you pay. So if you make a product, sell it, then drop your insurance a year later and some time after that you are sued, then you may not be covered.

Talk to an insurance agent. Preferably one you don't already have insurance with (you may not want to announce to your home owners insurance co that you have a blacksmith shop in the garage). There ARE companies that cover both areas (product and shop).
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 13:23:50 GMT

Power Hammer Foundation Mark, there are a lot of variables to this subject. The biggest variable is soil condition and water table level. Some soils transmit vibration better than others. And I had one fellow report that the high water table in his neighborhood resulted in his being forced to put in a very expensive inertia block foundation (heavy block set on springs and shock absorbers in a concrete lined pit).

I have seen 100# Little Giants run on common concrete floors with a plywood pad between hammer and floor. However, LG's will walk away on you if you do not bolt them down. Often they are just bolted to wooden pads made of heavy timbers that distribute the load and make a larger foot print so the hammer doesn't walk.

The recommended foundation for a 100# LG is a subterranean block of concrete with anchor bolts cast in. Normally the block is about 6" to one foot bigger than the base of the hammer in all directions and 30" deep or more. (LG specs say 38 x 39 x 36" deep). There should be a soft pad between the hammer and concrete. This is largely to be sure the load is distributed equaly under the hammer as its bottom is not perfectly flat nor is the concrete. The upper 6" of the anchor bolts are surrounded with pipe so they can be flexed around to fit into the hammer. The block should also have rebar on 6" centers in all directions. To be sure your bolts are properly located make a template using plywood or cardboard and trace the holes.

But as I said earlier, soil conditions make a big difference. Here in the Virginia foothills the "soil" is brick hard red clay in most places and a foundation does not need to be very deep for a small hammer. However, there are places with sandy soft spots that would require either a deeper foundation or one with larger area to "float" on the loose soil. Anywhere that has a loamy soil (lots of organic matter) you need to dig below that.

Since many industrial hammers were set near water the soil conditions often dictated very deep foundations and sometimes piles had to be driven. It is recommended on big hammers to build a soft foundation of wooden timbers. These are usualy stacked in alternating layers. The bigger the hammer the deeper the stack. On small steam hammers this may have been only four feet deeper than the bottom of the anvil but may have been over 20 feet on large hammers. These stacked wood foundations absorded shock preventing its transmission AND they alowed movement of the anvil which produces a more penetrating blow.

Inertia block foundations are needed when bedrock is near the surface or there is a high water table. They are also used in modern installations where it is critical not to transmit vibration to other machines. If close neighbors are a concern this may be the only thing that works.

When the foundation block of a hammer is struck in a high water table the water tries to rise everywhere else. This has resulted in the vibration being greater in a neighboring house than next to the hammer.

An inertia block foundation is a huge block of concrete that weighs three to five times as much as the hammer AND anvil. These are normally cast in place on cushions or springs in a concrete lined pit. After the concrete sets the forms are removed. In some cases the block is cast into a large steel box that replaces the forms. The gap between pit edge and foundation block is covered with deck plate of flooring. Engineering one of these is a tricky bit of business. First, the springs must support the block level to the surrounding floor. In some cases leveling screws are built into the spring supports. Structural steel beams are used in large inertia blocks. The springs must also give when the hammer operates letting the inertia block absorb the energy of the blow and the springs transmit the force in a slow distributed manner to the foundation. A hydraulic shock absorber prevents uncontrolled bouncing. On small hammer instalations rubber cushions are used instead of springs and no shock absorber is needed.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 14:19:51 GMT

I want to be a Blacksmith.can you help me find all the information and eqiupment i need to become one or at least try it out?if you could send me any information i would appreciate it.
   Gabe - Tuesday, 04/16/02 14:50:52 GMT

Gabe; come on by the MOB meeting Saturday and we'll get you started! Also see the "getting started in Blacksmithing" link at the top of the page right under the "welcome".

if you can tell us where you are located and what type of smithing you want to do, we can make much better suggestions as to what you need and how to learn.

If you are near Central Ohio; the Mid Ohio Blacksmiths are having a meeting Saturday where we will be teaching beginning smithing and going over various types of forges and how to build them and what tools you need and how to scrounge/build or buy them.

   - Thomas Powers - Tuesday, 04/16/02 16:34:08 GMT

Guru, what's your opinion on the Czech anvils at oldworldanvils.com?
   Rob Costello - Tuesday, 04/16/02 17:54:34 GMT

I have tried to find the article/demo on tools from railroad items without any luck. In one reference it mentioned the IForge demo #44. I checked the IForge section and could not find it. Am I looking in the wrong place?

   C2Guy - Tuesday, 04/16/02 19:42:16 GMT

Tools From RR-Rail: Is demo #45. Been a long time since I looked at it. . . tons of typos and I think we lost some paragraphs in the edit.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 20:13:50 GMT

Czech Anvils: Rob, I'm not sure all these anvils come from the same place. I have seen some that seemed to be pretty good anvils. But we have also had reports of the tops being curved on more than one of the big double horned anvils and at least one that was too soft. However, the soft anvil was promptly replaced. The grind of the others may be a general quality control problem. I personaly don't like the shape of some of these. They have the oportunity to make beautiful classic shapes but do not do so. You get what you pay for.

If you want a perfectly flat machined and carefully hand dressed anvil then Nimba is the best. They also take a lot of pride in the materials used and quality of the heat treat.

The face on a Peddinghaus is also very flat. But they have had problems with the hand dressing of the horn. On the other hand they are the last forged steel anvil and are VERY hard.

Selecting a NEW anvil is a difficult choice. All will do the job (providing they are not tool small). After that everything else is based on personal preferences.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 20:36:31 GMT

Getting Started: Gabe, the first thing you have to do is learn to pay attention to details.

At the top of this forum page, AND the bottom, there is a bold link titled Getting Started in Blacksmithing. It is also on our FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) page. It answers many of your questions and tells you where to find the rest.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 20:45:01 GMT

Good afternoon Jock,
I've just purchased an old Champion #400 blower, and I imagine the seller will have to ship it drained of its oil...when I get it, what kind of (and how much) oil do I put back in?
   Gator - Tuesday, 04/16/02 21:05:14 GMT

Blower Oil: Gator, SAE 30 is fine. If the unit is worn SAE 80 gear oil will quiet the box and reduce further wear but is sometimes to heavy in cold weather. The important thing is to keep oil in these units. They are notorious oil leakers and overfilling just makes it worse. Kept oiled these units last through generations of use.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 22:37:15 GMT

I'm not sure, but the blower I have doesnt appear that it was ever filled with oil, instead it has a brass fitting at top to that allows you to put a few pops with an oil can...(30 wieght) It has scew on caps each side of it that I put wheel bearing grease in. Guru double me on this one...I might be catastrophically wrong...although mine has been working since about 1901 (family hand me down)...Scott
   wolfsmithy - Tuesday, 04/16/02 22:41:37 GMT

Oil: Scott, More than a few drops are needed. The lowest gears should run in a well of oil and carry it to the others. Oil running down the gears lubricates the bearings.

A pump oil can is used to refill as needed. Old machinery leaked a lot and that is why old oil cans held pints and quarts of oil. Those size oil cans are still available.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 23:02:10 GMT

Thanks guru, I guess it all must of leaked out before I obtained it and the fella who used it before me...would you recomend a gear oil like 80w-90 or so... something equivalent to differential oil maybe...i guess oiling it every day has kept it alive...Thanks for the heads up..Scott
   wolfsmithy - Tuesday, 04/16/02 23:09:49 GMT

Gator.... did you outbid me for that #400 at ebay...?
   Rodriguez - Tuesday, 04/16/02 23:09:56 GMT

Nothing is safe on ebay. . .

Blower gear boxes are of two varieties. The Champion type have a multi-start worm gear that is a high friction device that needs a constant oil bath. Others that do not have worm gears (straight spur gears) need to be kept oiled but do not necessarily need an oil bath. Straight gears have a rolling action that needs lubrication but not as heavy as worm gears. Worms always have a sliding action and without oil wear rapidly. Most worm boxes should have gear oil in them. But due to the stiffening in cold weather the thinnest available gear oil should be used.

If there is room for an oil bath I would be sure there is oil in it.
   - guru - Tuesday, 04/16/02 23:46:56 GMT

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